Jono Gibbes back on deck with the Chiefs
Peripatetic former All Black lock Jono Gibbes has joined the Chiefs for Super Rugby Pacific next year as a resource coach and coach of the Chiefs' Development XV.
He has also been appointed coach of the New Zealand Under-20s side.
Gibbes, 46, an eight-Test All Black, said he last played for the Chiefs in 2008, but since then, the franchise had written some outstanding chapters in its history, and he felt lucky to be welcomed back into the fold.
His coaching record includes stints with Leinster (2008-14), Clermont Auvergne (2014-17), Ulster (2017-18), director of rugby for La Rochelle (2018-2021) and coach of Clermont Auvergne (2021-23). He also had a year as Waikato coach in 2018.
He returned to New Zealand from his last coaching stint in France to take a rest after 15 years of coaching. There were no guarantees he would continue coaching, but he was conscious his children had experienced life in France and Northern Ireland and wanted them to have a Kiwi experience.
Gibbes said it didn't matter where you were coaching rugby; it was about the game-day experience, the highs and lows that occur over 80 minutes.
"I had a couple of great highlights in Europe, but, also, I was lucky enough to be present at the World Cup final this year, and when Sam Cane ran out of the tunnel in the final, it brought me right back to the old days when I was at Rugby Park and the atmosphere.
"Those things still remain relevant in our game and the game-day experience is still what it is all about to me."
Gibbes is also taking on the New Zealand Under-20 coaching role. He said there had been a thorough review over the past few years of a group whose results had slumped from those of a decade ago.
One of the critical aspects was the amount of time the side had to prepare. Gibbes said along with his role with the Chiefs, he wanted to ensure the U-20s build-up was as thorough as possible.
Liam Messam said he was thrilled to be working alongside Gibbes as he had been a mentor for him when he started playing.
He is working in an athlete development role, helping players one-on-one to develop their skills, keeping them honest in the gym and working with their U-20 players.
Accepting the position meant he finally ended his playing career and was grateful for the chance he had been given in the role.
Canterbury coach Marty Bourke has also joined the Chiefs as an assistant coach. He said he would mix his Chiefs' and Canterbury NPC roles for the next two years.
He said his chance to be involved with the Chiefs in Super Rugby Pacific, a pinnacle competition, was a challenge he looked forward to.
Changes have been made after the completion of the Rugby World Cup cycle, and the approach with new personnel among players and coaches was that last year was done and they were looking at a new year.
That had to do with developing the young players coming through.
"Yes, they've lost a lot of experience, but it's an opportunity for those from the next tier to step up."
Bourke worked with head coach Clayton McMillan in 2019 with the Bay of Plenty NPC side, and they kept in touch as their respective careers developed. Bourke moved offshore to coach in the United States. He returned to New Zealand as an assistant coach for Canterbury, taking on the head coach role in 2023.