Tony Brown is likely to be co-coach with Aaron Mauger next year as the Highlanders begin what they have described as a new era.
Brown, 44, has a reputation as one of the sharpest rugby minds in the game, and has been the architect of many new and effective attacking plays in recent years. Known as a staunchly parochial southern man, he is looking forward to another term with the Highlanders.
"As most people would know, the Highlanders are a very special team to me and the opportunity to be involved again is too good to turn down. They are a great team to coach, they play positive footy and next year they have some exciting new talent coming through that I believe I can help develop to the next level," Brown said.
He first helped coach the franchise in 2014 and then moved into the head coaching role in 2017 for one year. He has coached the Sunwolves this year, and is also assistant coach of the Japanese national team with former Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph. His exact coaching role is yet to be finalised but he is regarded as one of the best attacking coaches in the game and is bound to be involved in that department.
Mauger will be in the final year of his three-year contract next year and said in a statement he was looking forward to Brown joining the club.
"His passion for our club and his rugby intellect will no doubt have a massive influence on our growth over the next few years and beyond.
"Although there is a great deal of excitement around the future of the club, the team of 2019 are solely focused on finishing this campaign well. Once the season is finished, we will do an extensive review of our programme and our coaching set-up, as we do every season, and the coaching roles and responsibilities for 2020 will be discussed and finalised post that," Mauger said.
Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark was enthusiastic about the appointment.
"Tony is an exceptional coach and to have his talents available to us again is exciting.
"It would be fair to say that next year we will be embarking on a new era without some of our better-known players from recent times," he said.
The Highlanders have retained a core group of 23 players from this year's campaign for 2020, including All Blacks Aaron Smith and Liam Coltman, and will look to complete selections shortly.
New players will be named in the coming weeks and after this season finishes.