Talk about rapid promotion for Hawke's Bay Unicorns rugby league coach Dion Te Ahu.
"Yes, people don't realise the enormity of the appointment. It's almost the league equivalent of scoring the Hurricanes head coach role in Super Rugby," Te Ahu says as he reflects on his Central Vipers premier team head coach job.
The Vipers cater for players from Hawke's Bay, Taranaki and Manawatu and Te Ahu, 28, scored the job despite only being a level one coach with a six-year involvement in the code.
"I was the manager of the team last year and we finished third in the national competition. This season we will aim for a berth in the final," Te Ahu said.
The night shift team leader at McCain Foods will also continue to co-coach the Unicorns with Daniel De Thierry.
An open trial for the Unicorns will be held on May 24 in Hastings and the Unicorns will play in a three-round tri-series with Taranaki and Manawatu next month - from these matches teams will be selected for the July 5 Vipers trial.
The former Bridge Pa under-17s coach pointed out several of the better Taranaki players from last year's Vipers team have scored overseas contracts.
"I'll be on the hunt for new talent and there's plenty in our three provinces," Te Ahu said.
He isn't worried that Hawke's Bay again won't have a winter league comp. Several of his Vipers contenders from the Bay are playing club rugby and they will have the opportunity to push for Vipers selection when playing for the Unicorns.
"We won't be picking players who aren't available for the district teams," Te Ahu said.
The father of four and grandfather of three has been impressed with the form of last year's Bay Vipers - Colin Hokianga, William Schuster and Richard Gillies - in club rugby and he said the trio were available for Unicorns and Vipers selection again.
He was full of praise for the assistance he had received from fellow coaches over the years and in particular the positive influence of De Thierry.
"Craig Bellamy of the Melbourne Storm is my big coaching idol. Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to meet him when he brings the Storm to the Bay for their NRL match against the Dragons in July ... that would be the ultimate."
A former Bridge Pa player, Te Ahu also played for the Napier Tech Seals after he moved to the Bay from Auckland. He was an age group league rep in Auckland where he played 1st XV rugby for Orewa College alongside the likes of Shaun Johnson and Ben Te'o, who went on to play at NRL level.
"I coached Shaun when he played for our school's junior boys touch team. I tell everybody I taught him everything he knows," Te Ahu quipped.
He is grateful for the support his employers and his wife Natasha. "Last year it was an eight-month commitment and while it is tough on the family it's a pathway I want to pursue."
Manawatu's Matthew Cole is his assistant coach and Te Ahu will meet him for the first time at Queen's Birthday Weekend when the first of the tri-series is staged. Another Hawke's Bay league personality, Anaru Bartlett, will be assistant coach of the Vipers under-15s.