If experience wins rugby matches, Ngongotahā have made a valuable acquisition for the 2019 Baywide rugby season.

Former All Black Hika Reid, born and bred in Ngongotahā, has returned to coach the club's top side.

In his playing career the hooker, who is now 60 and has spent time coaching overseas, played 85 games for Bay of Plenty, 25 games for Wellington and 40 games for the All Blacks including nine internationals. He was named Tom French Memorial Māori Player of the Year in 1980 and 1983.

Reid said Ngongotahā was home and he was looking forward to leading the team.


"I've been coaching at Cranbrook School in Kent, over in England. I was over there to introduce a New Zealand style of rugby, running rugby.

"I've had two years overseas and I have a third year in August, I go for five months at a time. I told Jodie [Wharekura, director of rugby] that I had these two young guys coming over. He said they were looking for a coach.

"I wanted to connect back with Ngongotahā, I've been overseas on and off for about 18 years. A lot of these guys I'm coaching here are kids of the guys I played with or are related to me."

Perhaps most famous for a spectacular Bledisloe Cup try in the second test against Australia in Brisbane in 1980, in which he started and ended a counterattack from near the All Blacks' own try line, Reid knows what it takes to produce in the big moments. However, his focus would be on what was in front of him, not what he had done in the past.

He said he watched Ngongotahā with interest whenever he was home and the aspect of the side that excited him most was the players' enthusiasm.

"I think I can add a little bit extra, just take them up another level. You never go over your own life [as a coach], that's the last thing they want to hear and the last thing I want to tell them.

"What you do focus on is how you're going to develop them, how you're going to make them better individually and as a team. It's really just building on what has been achieved in the last two or three seasons - building on that enthusiasm, getting a bit more clinical and playing with a bit more direction and structure."

Reid brings with him a couple of classy 19-year-old recruits. Prop Rory Marsh, 19, who played for him at Cranbrook School, and Welshman Ruari O'Flynn, 19, who helped Reid with pre-season training at the school, have also joined Ngongotahā for the season.


"I was impressed with both of them, so I told them if they ever thought of coming to New Zealand I'd look after them and point them in the right direction.

"I thought they would better themselves in rugby, they have a hell of a lot of potential, plus learn the life experiences in New Zealand," Reid said.

O'Flynn said, since he started playing rugby, it had been his dream to come and play in "the best country in the world at rugby".

"It's that simple, it's everyone's dream to come to New Zealand and play. I want to learn how to play like the best in the world and take my rugby as far as I can," he said.

Marsh said the welcome he had received in Ngongotahā had been overwhelming.

"It's honestly one of the most welcoming places I've ever been, it's a big family. Even straight away after a couple of sessions the boys were all hitting us up to see if we wanted to hang out, it's good fun.


"Obviously, I got coached by Hika before I came here, at school, so I knew a bit about his training. We've been here about six weeks now and New Zealand is absolutely beautiful, you literally drive round the corner and there's the most amazing views. It's a really cool country and the people are really friendly."

Ngongotaha start their 2019 campaign in Division 1 and will be aiming for promotion to Premier 2 in the second part of the season. Baywide rugby kicks off on March 23.