More than a decade on from his successful provincial tenure, Sir Graham Henry is returning to help revive Auckland rugby.
Henry led Auckland to four successive titles (1993-1996) before moving onto the Blues, Wales, British and Irish Lions and All Blacks. His last elongated coaching post was assisting Argentina from 2012-2013 after their introduction to the Rugby Championship.
Now, Henry has been shoulder tapped to help head coach Alama Ieremia restore some pride to the blue and white hoops. Successful first XV coach Tai Lavea has also been added, with a forwards coach yet to be announced.
Auckland narrowly avoided relegation from the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership last year, saved from such ignominy by Bay of Plenty's final-round victory over Waikato.
Still, Auckland's three wins from 10 matches forced major changes and the overdue realisation that the once powerhouse province had hit rock bottom.
Nick White was replaced by Ieremia, and the former All Blacks midfielder and Samoan coach is intent on changing the culture.
"Sir Graham obviously has a wealth of knowledge around the defence systems and trends of the game with a track record that speaks for itself," Ieremia said.
"Additionally, a key aspect of Graham's involvement is his role as a mentor not only to the coaches, but most importantly for the players.
"From a head coach point of view, creating a culture and identity that people are proud of is a big rock for the Auckland Mitre 10 team this year. Having Sir Graham with his experience will enhance that for this team."
Lavea captured five 1A titles in seven years, and a national 1st XV title in 2012.
Ieremia believes Lavea's background in the development and identification of young players will be valuable in bringing the Auckland team together.
"Tai has had a lot of success and understands the landscape with the young players coming through. We are aligned with key strategies, especially in the backline. Not only is being a homegrown Auckland coach important but having a history and relationship with young and current players is vital to get the best out of our squad in 2018."
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