17 Dec 2015

Sport: Tonga Rugby Union to advertise for new coach

12:31 pm on 17 December 2015

The Tonga Rugby Union intends to advertise for a new national head coach when Mana Otai's contract expires at the end of the month.

The former 'Ikale Tahi loose forward has coached Tonga to 11 wins in 24 tests since his appointment in 2012.

But Tonga disappointed at the recent World Cup, winning just one pool match and missing out on the knockout rounds and automatic qualification for the 2019 tournament.

The Tongan team huddle together following their Rugby World Cup defeat to Argentina.

Tonga failed to achieve their targets at the Rugby World Cup. Photo: AFP

The newly installed interim chair and president of the Tonga Rugby Union, Fe'ao Vunipola, says Mana Otai spent 20-odd years playing and coaching in New Zealand, prior to his appointment, and didn't give local players much of a look-in.

"The coach should have talked to the local coach[es] and tell them what he's looking for and pinpoint and highlight the weaknesses in the local game so that they can raise it to a level that he's satisfied that if he picked a local boy to the national team they can perform at the level that he needs, but I think it was never done. I think that's the weakness of bringing in a foreign coach to Tonga. He has all the technicalities he needs but when he comes to Tonga he needs to come down to a level and didn't try to raise them up by coaching them, that's my view".

Fe'ao Vunipola says he would like to see a locally-based coach given a chance with the 'Ikale Tahi but admits they will consider all options.

"That's the preference but with a local coach comes a technical advisor and we need to have a technical advisor because we need to train local coaches. If it doesn't happen then we will be looking to a foreign coach but in saying that we must make sure that we have local coaches assisting, in view of taking over in two years time or four years time".

Tonga rugby coach Mana Otai.

Mana Otai's contract expires at the end of 2015. Photo: AFP