February 12, 2024

Former players join Chiefs Manawa coaching group

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The Chiefs Rugby Club have named two distinguished past players to complete the Chiefs Manawa coaching team.

Former Chiefs utility back Dwayne Sweeney and former Chiefs Manawa midfielder Carla Hohepa will hold assistant coach roles alongside head coach Crystal Kaua.

Chiefs Rugby Club CEO Simon Graafhuis said: “It’s fantastic to get two individuals like Carla and Dwayne into coaching roles in the Chiefs environment.

“Both will be very familiar to our fans as players, having until recently played at a very high level with Carla playing for the Chiefs Manawa in last year’s campaign and Dwayne playing his final season with the Chiefs in 2014.

“They both have significant experience and in recent years have demonstrated their coaching skills. We look forward to seeing their impact on our Chiefs Manawa this season.”

During his playing career, Sweeney ran out 69 times in the Chiefs jersey and played over 100 games for Waikato in NPC. He has also played for the Māori All Blacks, New Zealand Barbarians and returned to play for Thames Valley in the 2022 Heartland Championship.

Off the field, Sweeney has been an assistant coach for the successful Waikato Women’s Sevens team who was national runner-up in both 2018 and 2019, and was an assistant coach for the Waikato NPC team.

Sweeney said: “I’m personally really excited about the depth of squad we have and working with a number of players I have coached in the past, as well as some of the very best we have here in New Zealand.

“It’s a great opportunity and challenge we have as a coaching group to work together to develop an exciting brand of rugby for the players to play. I can’t wait to get together as a team and rip in!”

A 29-test Black Fern, Hohepa was part of the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup winning squad. She has been a staple player for the Chiefs Manawa team in recent years but this season will step off the field into this coaching role instead.

In 2023 Hohepa committed to shifting into coaching, assisting the Waikato Women’s Sevens side and the Waikato FPC team. She was also part of the Ako Wāhine Performance Coaching programme to further develop her skills.

Hohepa is excited to take on an assistant coaching role with the Chiefs Manawa this year.

“Despite my 16 years of international playing experience, coaching is fairly new territory for me, so I’ll be soaking up as much as I can from Muz [Crystal Kaua] and Sweens [Dwayne Sweeney].

“This season will be a learning journey but I’m ready for the challenge ahead!”

The Chiefs Manawa squad assembled this week for their first training camp of the 2024 Sky Super Rugby Aupiki season.

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Former players join Chiefs Manawa coaching group