Rugby Canada has announced that former New Zealand All Black Kieran Crowley has been selected as Canada's new senior men's team coach.
The 35 times capped former fullback emerged as the clear winner from the coaching search process that saw a committee of five work through a list of strong candidates since the start of the new year.
Crowley will take over the 15th ranked Canadian side as early as next month, and says he is excited about the prospect of guiding Canada through to the World Cup in his home country in 2011.
"We talked about it a lot at home and we saw what (Rugby Canada) has to offer and what we have to offer (Rugby Canada) and are really looking forward to the opportunity of working in Canada," said the 46 year old New Zealander.
"Hopefully we will have a successful time and develop things along the way. We are really looking forward to it."
Chairman of the search committee, Rugby Canada Director David Robertson, is pleased with the selection and admits when the process started he did not think a coach of Crowley's pedigree would possibly emerge.
"To be honest we weren't sure because we could see what was happening around the world," Robertson revealed. "You know, Warren Gatland going to Wales and immediately taking Shaun Edwards across to help him. Nick Mallet going to Italy, Jake White on the market as it were.
"We wondered what level we would attract from overseas knowing that we had some good domestic candidates," he continued.
"I think with Kieran in some ways was a very pleasant surprise that not only was his resume on the table but that his interest in the position was sincere."
Crowley comes off a nine year stint with Provincial side Taranaki where he was both assistant coach and head coach. He also guided the New Zealand U19 side to an IRB World Championship in 2007 in Dublin.
As a player Crowley played for Kaponga where he was first selected to the All Blacks in 1983 at age 22 for a match against South of Scotland. His full international debut came two years later against England in Christchurch. Through his career he had a 105 test points including five tries, while he had a further eight tries in non-test matches in the All Blacks uniform.
He won a World Cup in the inaugural event in 1987 and played his last test in the 1991 World Cup - a semi-final loss to Australia.
As a player for Taranaki he played 200 times, finishing his playing career in 1994, when he was made a life time member of the club.
From 2001 to 2003 he was a selector for the All Blacks senior men's side - including the 2003 World Cup, under then coach, John Mitchell.
Crowley says he watched Canada's performance during the 2007 World Cup and felt it is a team on the move.
"My impression of them at the moment is that they are a very physical team and they have very good set piece plays," said Crowley. "There is still work to be done in those areas but they have done well and the area that possibly needs improvement I think is the vision or the ability to change things when things are not as structured as they should be.
"I think that is a legacy of the fact that (Canadian) players don't start playing until a little bit older than they do in New Zealand and it is just the rugby mentality I suppose."
He says the experience of coaching Taranaki and the U19 All Blacks will be a good platform for coaching a young Canadian side.
"I think any team no matter how good you are - even the All Blacks - you are still teaching skills," offered Crowley. "You still have to pay attention to and address those micro-skills that are needed and involved in a game.
"There are some very good people in (Rugby Canada) who are coaching and who are teaching those skills and I don't think the skill base is actually a huge problem, there are a lot of skills there.
"We just need to combine that into the actual playing of the game and bringing the rugby psyche as far as playing the games and that sort of thing into being."
Robertson is pleased with the choice of Crowley, and says the process that brought it about, using a committee comprised of himself, High Performance Director Geraint John, Rugby Canada CEO Graham Brown, recently retired player Mike James and former coach and board member Dr. Pat Parfrey, was very rewarding.
"That search committee worked extremely well and brought different perspectives to the table," said Robertson, who is Headmaster at Shawnigan Lake School on Vancouver Island and is a former Scottish Senior Mens' squad member. "The Chairman, Rick Bourne dutifully listened in on every interview that we did whether it was telephone or face to face, just so that he could get a feel for what was going on and that was welcome too.
"It was a bit of a daunting task to be confronted with given my newness to the whole setup. Hopefully we have come up with the right answer and the right response and we just want success for the game in Canada. I hope this will be it."
Kieran Crowley Fact File
FULL NAME Kieran James Crowley
BORN Thursday, 31 August 1961 in Kaponga
COACHING: New Zealand U19 Men's Team - World Champions 2007,
Coached Provincial side Taranaki from 1998 - 2007
PHYSICAL 1.84m, 84kg
LAST SCHOOL Sacred Heart College
RUGBY CLUB (First made All Blacks from) Kaponga
RUGBY NICKNAME Colt
ALL BLACK DEBUT Saturday, 29 October 1983 v South of Scotland at Galashiels aged 22 years, 59 days
INTERNATIONAL DEBUT Saturday, 1 June 1985 v England at Christchurch aged 23 years, 274 days
LAST TEST Sunday, 27 October 1991 v Australia at Dublin aged 30 years, 57 days
ALL BLACK TESTS 19 (0 as Captain)
ALL BLACK GAMES 16 (0 as Captain)
TOTAL ALL BLACK MATCHES 35 (0 as Captain)
ALL BLACK TEST POINTS 105pts (5t, 5c, 23p, 2dg, 0m)
ALL BLACK GAME POINTS 211pts (8t, 31c, 38p, 1dg, 0m)
TOTAL ALL BLACK POINTS 316pts (13t, 36c, 61p, 3dg, 0m)
ALL BLACK NUMBER 848