Come the end of the Mitre 10 Cup rugby season each year more than a few us like the challenge of predicting the Magpies who will gain Super Rugby selection.

It can be tough. What about naming the next Hawke's Bay rugby administrator who has the potential to be the Bay's first Super Rugby team manager?

That's easy ... Mike Smith. So it wasn't a surprise when the current Hawke's Bay Rugby Union board director and chairman of finance was this week named as the new Magpies manager.

"I would love to do something like being a Super Rugby team manager in the future but let's start with the Magpies first," Smith said.


"I'm excited about the opportunity and pretty humbled. It's the top of the line here in the Bay," Smith said.

The 50-year-old father of three will step down from his board role after presenting the finances at the union's annual meeting in Napier on February 26 but will juggle his Magpies role with his finance director's job with Gemco Construction.

He replaces Terry Gittings who has had to step down as Magpies manager after three seasons at the helm to focus on his increased work commitments as operations manager for Moana New Zealand.

"I've always had the ambition of being the Magpies manager. With Terry stepping aside this opportunity has fitted in with my lifestyle around work and family. If I didn't do it now I would regret it," Smith said.

"I can always go back to the board."

During the past five seasons he has managed Hawke's Bay rep teams including the Saracens and under-19s who had their best finish, seventh, at the Jock Hobbs Memorial Trophy national tournament last year.

Smith is the former manager of the Napier Old Boys Marist premier team and for the past three seasons has been assistant manager of the Clive premier side which won the Maddison Trophy last year.

In all of these roles his organisation skills have always been top shelf.


"I like to do as much as I can to create an environment which is all about the players so they can do their best out on the park," Smith said.

"Our ultimate goal with the Magpies is to push for the Premiership. All of our young players were exposed to the level of play required last year and will know what is needed."

"I will be stepping aside from the HBRU board with mixed emotions. Being part of the board for the past 18 months has been a great experience, and I firmly believe the board is doing an excellent job in the governance of the game in Hawke's Bay," Smith said.

"I'm really looking forward to the challenge ahead and to becoming part of the wider management team. The 2019 Mitre 10 Cup shapes as an extremely exciting one especially after the encouraging signs of 2018. I feel extremely privileged to be appointed to this role.

"Terry has done an outstanding job with the Magpies, so I know I have very big shoes to fill. I am however looking forward to the challenge and am excited to be working with a fantastic group of players, coaches and other management personnel," Smith added.

"We interviewed three very different but equally very component candidates, all of whom could have performed well," Magpies head coach Mark Ozich said.

"But ultimately Mike secured the position with his proven track record of excellence, experience and his unwavering commitment to help people. We're all looking forward to working with Mike and his contribution to the team will be significant. I'm sure.

"I'd like to thank our outgoing manager Terry Gittings for his outstanding service to the Magpies over the past three years. His service, hard work and dedication made him a popular and much-loved member of our team," Ozich said.

"Mike brings considerable passion and an understanding of the representative rugby environment with him to the manager's role having spent the past five years doing his apprenticeship with the Saracens and under-19s and prior to that with various clubs," union CEO Jay Campbell said.

"He has also forged a very successful governance career with Hawke's Bay Rugby and while it's disappointing, he will have to step down from that, his wider understanding of rugby operations will be of immense benefit to the Magpies in his new role."