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Otago Highlanders coaching staff called in to prepare the NZDF Rugby team for the IRDC 2011

Keiran Keene training the NZDF Rugby Team

Photo Captions: Kieran Keene explains the finer points of defence.

28 September 2011

Former All Black Simon Culhane and Kieran Keene from the Highlanders Coaching staff were called in to put the NZDF Rugby team through its paces in the weekend. The NZDF Rugby team assembled at Devonport Naval Base for a three-day training camp to prepare for the inaugural International Defence Rugby Force Competition (IDRC) to be held in Australia and New Zealand 1 – 22 Oct 2011.

The Highlanders Assistant Coaches have been integral in the 2011 successes of the Highlanders Super 15 squad. They spent two days with the team offering advice and guidance leading into the tournament.

“There has been a fair bit of learning and now its time for the coaches to put the 'polish' on those lessons. They (NZDF Team) are a very tight group and will work hard to be the best they can be. The receptiveness of the players was refreshing and showed a willingness to take on new stuff and work hard to implement the systems,” said Culhane.

Kieran Keene was also impressed with the dedication of the players and was asked how the Highlanders would prepare for the inaugural tournament.

“There is no history, it would be nice to 'make' history, and that would be our approach. As a New Zealand team there will be expectations to do well although down on resources and dollars, that could well be a key driver making the group tighter (the kiwi battlers) battling above their weight. On the right track finding a point of difference (Defence, Aggression),” said Keene.

NZDF Coach Pita Lloyd was very pleased with the way the team has “gelled” during the training camp.

“It’s been a great experience for the team and our own coaching staff working with Simon and Kieran. They have certainly lifted our spirits and given us a number of systems and options to improve our performance throughout the tournament. Their involvement has really been fantastic!”

The team have a warm up game against Randwick RFC on Wednesday 28 Sep prior to the start of the IDRC. The team are dedicating this game to the SAS soldier who lost his life in Afghanistan today. 


For further information please contact Squadron Leader Kavae Tamariki, NZDF IDRC Communications Manager, on 04 496 0294 or 021 420 899.

Background Notes

1.       You can support the NZDF Rugby team in their quest for international defence force rugby supremacy on their Facebook page “NZDF Rugby – International Defence Force Competition” and at

2.       It is hoped the tournament will continue every four years hosted by a different nation, along side the Rugby World Cup tournaments.

3.       IDRC Programme in NZ 15 – 24 Oct 2011.

·        15 Oct: Top four teams arrive Whenuapai Air Force Base

·        17 Oct: Powhiri Welcome at the Navy Marae, Devonport Naval Base. Media will be invited to attend.

·        18 Oct: Semis Finals North Shore RFC

·        1300 – 1430hrs Semi Final One

·        1500 – 1630hrs Semi Final Two

·        22 Oct: Finals at Auckland University RFC

·        1300 – 1430hrs Bronze Final

·        1500 – 1630hrs IDRC Final

·        1730hrs Presentations

·        24 Oct: Teams depart Whenuapai for Australia and then onto their respective countries.

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