Mahe Drysdale and coach Calvin Ferguson will reunite, as the double Olympic champion rower continues his return to the sport.

After Drysdale's former mentor Dick Tonks parted ways with Rowing New Zealand in acrimonious circumstances after the Rio Olympics, he needs to find a new coach who is acceptable to the country's centralised programme.

The 38-year-old is aiming to earn back the single sculls spot, currently occupied by Robbie Manson. Manson finished fifth at this year's world championships, but was hampered by injuries after overtaking Drysdale's world-best time at Poznan in June.

Drysdale will join 10 athletes in the men's sculling summer squad run by Ferguson at Lake Karapiro.


The squad includes world champion double scullers Chris Harris and John Storey, lightweight double hopefuls James Lassche and Matt Dunham, and six quadruple sculls aspirants.

Manson will train separately with coach Noel Donaldson ahead of the February 13-17 national championships at Lake Karapiro. Trials for the international season will likely pit Drysdale and Manson against each other immediately afterwards.

Drysdale won his first two world championships under Tonks in 2005 and 2006, but was coached by Ferguson to win his 2007 title and the bronze at the 2008 Olympics when he was hampered by illness. Drysdale has since been mentored by Tonks.

Calvin Ferguson told Radio Sport he'll work with Drydale through the summer and re-assess after that.

"He has a challenge ahead for the single spot to get his fitness back up and to see how the speed of his boat goes.

"He's not as conditioned as he can be after a year off.

"I understand what his needs are, and what he's done with Dick. The relationship was quite easy between us all, even though they did their own thing."

Ferguson rowed three years in a national lightweight four with Tonks as coach, and worked as Rob Waddell's training partner at times when the Sydney Olympic champion was mentored by Rowing New Zealand's former head coach.

"I learned a lot of his processes and techniques," Ferguson said.

"Now our children go to sports together and our families get on well. I keep [sporting] politics and individual friendships separate.

"I can have a chat to him - we get on well - and he respects I'm working for Rowing New Zealand, but we haven't discussed it [the Drysdale situation] yet."

Ferguson said Rowing New Zealand needs to have a conversation with Drysdale about who he wants to be coached by long term, provided he can beat Manson.

"That's going to be a good competition. I'm not trying to think too far ahead.

"I'd be happy to coach Mahe all the way through [to a fifth Olympics at Tokyo] because he's pretty much self-managed.

"He knows what needs to be done in terms of hard graft, but I'd be fine as another set of eyes to bounce ideas off."