Hammett's crusade enters a new dimension
September 22, 2006

Mark Hammett, a foundation player at the Crusaders Super rugby franchise in 1996, has been named as assistant to four-time title winning coach Robbie Deans.

The former All Blacks hooker, who made 81 appearances for the Crusaders between 1996 and 2003, succeeds former Bay of Plenty coach Vern Cotter as Deans' deputy for the defending champions' 2007 Super 14 campaign.

"It's a huge honour and a great opportunity," said Hammett , who worked on the team's lineout in an advisory capacity this season.

"Obviously my background means that I have a fairly in-depth knowledge of the team and the Crusaders environment but, in terms of coaching, I still have much to learn. Who better to learn off than Robbie Deans?" he said.

Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said the franchise was delighted to be able to appoint someone from within its ranks to the position.

"From our perspective, it's fantastic to have someone of Mark's proven experience and capability to slot into this position," he said.

"He is widely respected for all that he has already contributed to the cause, and we are looking forward to him adding further value in the future."

Hammett is the first former Crusaders player to return to the professional franchise in an official coaching capacity.

"We learned a lot of important lessons in the early years of the Crusaders that stood us in good stead for the success we enjoyed as a team and a franchise later on.

"Hopefully I can pass on elements of the knowledge and experience that I gained during my own playing career to a new generation of Crusaders players to allow them to benefit from that going forward."

Hammett played 29 tests for New Zealand between 1999 and 2003 and also numbered 78 games for Canterbury during a first class career that spanned 13 seasons.


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