Mauger hired as Highlanders head coach on 3-year deal

DUNEDIN, New Zealand (AP) Former All Blacks center Aaron Mauger has been hired as head coach of the Highlanders on a three-year deal from the 2018 Super Rugby season.

Mauger will replace Tony Brown, who is headed to Japan, and will work with Mark Hammett, Clarke Dermody and Jon Preston on the coaching team at the Dunedin-based club.

”Aaron has demonstrated to us the passion, commitment and dedication to coaching at the club that we believe are vital at this level and will lead an experienced coaching and management group,” Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark said.

The Highlanders reached the Super Rugby quarterfinals this season before losing to the Christchurch-based Crusaders.

Mauger, who played 89 games for the Crusaders and 46 games for the All Blacks from 2001-2007, has had coaching experience at the Crusaders and at the Leicester Tigers in England.

”The Highlanders have a solid foundation of good core values and a tight-knit culture,” Mauger said. ”It’s a credit to all those who have worked hard to establish an environment that allows people to express themselves and thrive as individuals.

”I am excited at the prospect of working with this team to help further the Highlanders,” he said.