WAIPU'S premier rugby coach has caught the eye of the Cook Islands Rugby Union, with Mark Wells being offered a contract to coach their under-20s side.

Wells will coach the Cook Islands team in the Oceania under-20 tournament this year, with the winner qualifying for the 2016 World Cup.

A former first-class player, Wells has played a big part in turning around the fortunes of the Waipu team after they were promoted to the Bayleys Southern Districts premier competition in 2013.

His successes with Waipu last season added weight to his application for the Cook Islands job.


Last year Wells had Waipu running like a well-oiled machine, as the former easy-beats had a sudden turn-around in form which saw them genuine contenders for a play-off spot.

The new role will be a welcome challenge for the newly married 35-year-old, who has aspirations of coaching at ITM Cup level.

"The Cook Islands Rugby Union want results," Wells said. "We believe we can win this tournament, even with Oceania powerhouses Fiji and Tonga in the tournament.

"I, myself, want to put out a team that is clear on structures, maps and I will make sure I have the fittest team in the tournament."

Also involved in the tournament, besides the Cooks, Fiji and Tonga, are Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands.

To achieve the desired on-field results, Wells will be calling on all of his experience from his involvement with Counties Manukau and the Crusaders' high-performance coaching clinic.

He also plans to draw on the expertise of other Northlanders to help make the team a success, including luring any Northland rugby players with Cook Islands heritage.

"I have hit social media hard to find players that are keen and eligible," Wells said. "Players outside of New Zealand have the same chance, as no stone will be left unturned in this venture to put out the very best under-20s side the Cooks can find."

He will also be supported by Northlanders Peter Nock, Christophe Pallies and former Taniwha prop Joe Veitayaki.

Nock, who also coaches the Northland sevens team, will look after the video-analysis side of things, while Pallies will use the medical knowledge he practises with Whangarei Treatment Providers to keep the team healthy.

Meanwhile, Veitayaki will work as scrum coach.

Also part of the Cooks' under-20 set-up are Jack Madden, from CrossFit Birkenhead, as strength and conditioner, Vinni Peters as manager, Walter Tangata as assistant coach, and Ben Koteka.

Wells' time with the Cook Islands under-20 team won't be his first experiences with the country though, having lived there and worked on a tuna boat and in a local bar.

"I lived there for nine months in 2003 and worked on a tuna fishing boat and as barman at the Trader Jacks Bar. In all honesty, all I really did was swim, dive and pour drinks, it was awesome."

Wells was selected to coach the Northland under-19 side to the inaugural Jock Hobbs under-19 tournament last year and recently was re-selected in the role.

-Wells invites any Northland rugby players of Cook Islands descent to contact him through his email, kiwilad@outlook.com