Benedict Chanakira managed to speak to one of nine New Zealand coaches who will be at the World Cup with one of their teams. Yes, New Zealand will be represented in eight other teams in the World Cup. So, who is Milton Haig? One of the pioneers and quite an experienced coach who finds himself in Georgian rugby now. He has coached in New Zealand, South Africa, and England. Haig has acquired different concepts and methods of coaching. His recent exploits have been with Maori All Blacks, Chiefs and Counties Manukau. He has been a revelation with the Georgians; it has not always been easy but they are looking forward to the World Cup… Here is what Milton Haig has to say-
How are the World Cup preparations coming?
Preparation is going very well. Calvin Morris, (former Head Coach of Strength and Conditioning for England Rugby) has set a very tough 9 week program that will test the players physically and mentally. For many of the players, new and old, the amount of physical work they have had to do has been something very new but they have adapted very well. We still have a long way to go but we are pretty confident we will reach our target goals at the end of the 9 week program if the current results are anything to go by.
You have managed to improve the side since your appointment. What is your long term vision for the side?
Long term wise we want our national team to be ranked in the World Rugby top 10. We also want to have a World Class national Academy program that produces top senior International players, and hopefully the odd world class player. In 5 years we want ‘rugby’ to be adopted as Georgia’s ‘National’ sport not just be the most popular, as it is now.
There has been suggestions that the Six Nations bottom side must take on the winner of the European Nations Cup. If Georgia found themselves in such a position, would they be able to be competitive?
I certainly think we could be competitive if we were to play the bottom team of the Six Nations. We are currently ranked ahead of Italy in the world rankings and to get there we have had to win against good opponents and win test matches consistently. To be better we need to play against the best teams in the world like South Africa, New Zealand and the Six Nations teams, only then will we be able to fulfil our true potential.
You are one of nine coaches that will be from New Zealand at the World Cup. It highlights the quality of New Zealand coaches surely. What is the secret?
I’m not sure if there is any secret! New Zealand boys (and even some girls) are born with a rugby ball in their hand and have an intrinsic relationship with the game from a very young age. Add the fact that it is our ‘national game’. We are surrounded by rugby 24/7, it’s not surprising that by the time we get to the age of becoming a coach, we have amassed a huge amount of technical and tactical knowledge either by watching, playing or studying the game of rugby.
I’m certainly proud to be a New Zealander coaching at the ‘greatest rugby’ event in the world, as I’m sure are the other New Zealand coaches that will be at RWC 2015.
Written by Benedict Chanakira