Former All Blacks flanker Kevin Schuler has returned to the Bay of Plenty Steamers as head coach.
The 44-year-old, who previously held the job in 2007, has signed a three year contract to replace Sean Horan as head coach of the national provincial team.
A former Manawatu and North Harbour player Schuler has been involved with the Super 15 Chiefs side this year as their resource coach as well as the Chiefs' development team coach. Before his Super 15 commitments he was the head coach at Yamaha Motors Rugby Football Club in Japan.
Schuler told The Daily Post yesterday he was glad to get back into a head coaching role for one of the top provincial teams of this year's ITM Cup.
"Well I love coaching and I'm a coach and I've been back in the country for a few years now and I was involved with the Chiefs last year and had a crack at the Chiefs head coach role and missed out to Dave Rennie."
The new coach said he had been offered other opportunities to coach around the country but wanted to say in the regions.
"From a personal and family perspective I sort of made the call to stay around in the Bay and stay involved in whatever coaching level I could here.
"As soon as this opportunity came up I had to put my name in the hat and have a crack."
The former flanker played 13 games for the All Blacks including four tests from 1990 to 1995, making his debut against Australia at Eden Park. He was also part of the 1995 Rugby World Cup squad, playing two games, with his last test as an All Black against Japan at Bloemfontein in 1995.
Schuler said he was excited at the prospect of working with the talent the Steamers squad had on offer.
"Coaching rugby in New Zealand is great at all sorts of levels ... I've had a taste at the higher levels to. ITM Cup coaching is a great opportunity and with the Steamers and the Bay certainly over the last few years have really consolidated themselves and are in a great position in New Zealand rugby. So it's pretty exciting to be part of it."
Bay of Plenty Rugby Union chief executive Mike Rogers said it was a great coup for the union.
"To secure Herb, obviously he's had experience coaching the Steamers previously and we are very pleased to have him back on board. We had a pretty tough decision because we had some very good candidates but ultimately Herb was the successful one and we're looking forward to working with him again."
Rogers said Schuler's ITM Cup experience as well as his history with the union had been a deciding factor when choosing him to fill the head coaching role.
"I think his knowledge of the Bay and the culture and our desire to develop local talent. He's pretty emerged in that and obviously his recent coaching experience with the Chiefs. So having the Super Rugby experience as well was a factor in terms of his qualities. He covered a lot of the qualities we were looking for in a coach."
Schuler will take up the role in the new year with the rest of his coaching staff to be named once he stepped into the role.
Rogers said he expected Schuler to continue to improve the team's performance.
The Steamers finished third in this year's ITM Cup premiership division.
"I think we are expecting results, Herb knows that. Our expectation is we are a leading ITM Cup province and so we go into the competition expecting to win it every year," Rogers said.
"We don't go in trying to make up numbers. We think we've got some quality players playing for the Bay now and got some great young talent coming through as well. So we've certainly got a high expectation of performance."