National provincial champions Canterbury, on the hunt for a seventh consecutive title this year, might have to do it with a revamped management group as coach Scott Robertson is said to be negotiating a deal with Biarritz.
If Robertson does sign with the French club, he will go from coaching a side in Canterbury which has been a standout for the past six years, to coaching a team of strugglers.
Biarritz are bottom of the Top 14 league by some distance, having won only four of their 23 matches. Their president Serge Blanco, the former France fullback, is agitating for change and has decided that Robertson is the man to improve things. Biarritz, who also play in the European Heineken Cup competition, will be relegated at the end of the season and Robertson could find himself with the job of hauling them back up to the top division.
Robertson could not be reached for comment yesterday, but could consider himself ready for a new challenge.
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He was employed only in a part-time role when assisting Rob Penney to Canterbury's titles from 2008-11 before assisting Tabai Matson in 2012 and taking over the head coaching role last year.
Robertson, a former All Blacks loose forward, spent the latter part of his playing career representing Perpignan, which is also in the south of France, and enjoyed his time there. He is a good French speaker.
Canterbury's current assistant coach, Jason Holland, who joined the province after finishing his playing career with Munster, would be the favourite to get the head coaching role.
Canterbury's first match of the season is against Auckland on August 16.