Andrew Mehrtens coaching Waratahs kickers
January 29, 2014
Kurtley Beale remained upright under Andrew Mehrtens' first Waratahs sesssion © New South Wales Waratahs
Andrew Mehrtens has joined New South Wales Waratahs as kicking coach, the Crusaders and All Blacks legend saying he'd be "chuffed" to see his new employers beat a New Zealand team by a penalty goal in the Super Rugby 2014 decider.
"Obviously I spent a long time at the Crusaders and I still support the Crusaders, but I'm here working with these guys and as people and as rugby players I want them to get the best out of themselves," Mehrtens said in a Q&A session conducted by the Waratahs after announcing his part-time position alongside Michael Cheika.
"I'd be delighted if and when they do well this season."
Mehrtens, who helped the Crusaders win five Super rugby titles, is working in Sydney for the financial planning firm at which former Waratahs and Wallabies hooker Phil Kearns is chief executive, and he says he is "really enjoying being part of a kind of normal working life".
"it means that I can treat rugby sort of as a hobby or a sport or a pastime and have that balance. I'm just chuffed to be back in it. I've spent a few months doing not much in rugby. The French experience [coaching at second-tier club Beziers-Herault] led to me wanting a bit of a break from it. But, from what I've seen and from what I've heard, [the Waratahs] are working bloody hard and you know, they're going to climb into this season so I'm looking forward to it."
Andrew Mehrtens is "enjoying being involved in rugby on a part-time basis" © New South Wales Waratahs
Mehrtens said he didn't need much persuading to join the Waratahs.
"I enjoyed my time playing alongside [Waratahs assistant coach] Daryl Gibson and I've known Michael Cheika for a long time since I played against him in Italy. I like both those guys, I think they're awesome coaches and I like what they seem to be trying to doing here as well. It's just a pleasure to be involved and not working full-time in rugby now, I've actually got a passion for it."
Mehrtens was born in Durban, South Africa, but moved to New Zealand as a youngster, growing up in Christchurch, where he followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, who both played for Canterbury and New Zealand. Mehrtens debuted for the All Blacks in the 1995 season, scoring 28 points against Canada in commencing his nine-year Test career in which he kicked 169 conversions, 188 penalty goals and 10 drop goals in tallying 967 points from his 90 matches.
He said that he didn't know how friends and New Zealanders would react to the news of his decision to help an Australian team, but he noted that "one of those things Australians and New Zealanders and to a certain extent South Africans do pretty well is sort of export their knowledge".
"Within the context of trying to put back, I'm here in Sydney at the moment and like I say have been very well received and I'm enjoying being involved in rugby on a part-time basis."
Mehrtens said he would work with the Waratahs kickers individually because "everyone's different in goal-kicking".
"It's about finding out what works best for the individual, whether it's to do with how you train, or when you train, or what you're doing technically in that or just your attitude, your mentality and your attitude towards kicking. Everyone's different and it's about knowing the guys and working with them in their own context and getting them driving their own thing ... and enjoying themselves.
"At the end of the day there are some pressure moments but goal-kicking, like anything in sport, should be about going hard and enjoying it. If I can do anything to help these guys achieve that then great."
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