Peter Russell confirmed as Turbos head coach
The Manawatu Turbos have signed highly-regarded head coach Peter Russell to lead their Mitre 10 Cup campaigns for the next three years.
Russell, who has been coaching Japanese club NEC Green Rockets for the past three seasons, will arrive in his new province in February.
He said he was looking forward to returning to New Zealand rugby for the first time since 2011.
“I see lots of growth still in New Zealand rugby and Manawatu is one of those provinces that always produces the gems,” he said.
Manawatu Rugby Union Board chairman Tim Myers was pleased to have such an accomplished coach on-board.
“The recruitment panel was determined to attract and appoint a coach that not only carries proven pedigree and a track record of success, but also a coach that was going to be able to readily address the findings from the recent performance reviews that the MRU Board have conducted. We feel completely satisfied that we have been successful in this regard.”
Russell replaces Jeremy Cotter, who mutually agreed to part ways with the Manawatu Rugby Union at the conclusion of the 2018 season after his third year at the helm of the Turbos.
He comes to the Turbos with a bumper coaching resume.
He won three Jubilee Cup titles in Wellington club rugby with Marist St Pats (1999, 2001 and 2002).
In three years as head coach of Wairarapa Bush, he won the former NPC third division title in 2005 and then the inaugural Heartland Championship in 2006.
In 2007, he was named head coach of the Hawke’s Bay Magpies and lead them to the semi-finals in his first three seasons.
Russell was promoted to assistant coach of the Highlanders in 2010, but his success at provincial level continued.
In the first year of the two-division Mitre 10 Cup structure in 2011, Russell coached the Magpies to the inaugural Championship Division title, beating Manawatu in the final.
Russell moved to England in 2012, taking on the head coaching role of the Newcastle Falcons and leading the club back to the top flight of English rugby in his first season by winning the RFU Championship.
He coached the Falcons for two years.
In 2016, Russell moved to Japan where he coached the NEC Green Rockets. His commitments with the club will finish when their 2018-19 campaign ends next week.
With two young sons, he was keen to return to New Zealand. He said he learned plenty from his oversees stints.
“One of my strengths is listening to players and ensuring that everyone is on the same page in terms of the game-plan especially, but also our values as a group. That creates the environment and keeps it strong.”
He said his coaching style was focused on hard work while ensuring the enjoyment factor was not lost.
“You don’t try and stifle innate skills. If a player has got skills, you try to ensure that he can show that right throughout the game, without going too overboard and away from the game plan.
“The players have to work extremely hard for results so any result, win, lose or draw, I want to make sure that we get lessons out of that and that we just keep moving forward as a group and get stronger and tighter.”
The 2019 Mitre 10 Cup kicks off on August 8.