Former Kiwis' star Tawera Nikau is hoping to restore Waikato rugby league "to past glories" as the province's new representative coach.
Huntly-based Nikau takes over the reins of the Waikato side for the North Island Super Seven series and aims to improve the standard of representative league ahead of a return to Bartercard Cup level in 2004.
"I'm looking to develop a group of younger players so they'll be ready for Bartercard Cup football but I'll mix those in with the more experienced players who have that old war-horse approach," he said.
Waikato Rugby League sports development officer John Devonshire, who will share coaching duties with Nikau, said the presence of the former Cronulla Sharks and Melbourne Storm forward was a huge boost.
"It's a great windfall for the district to get someone with his expertise of top level football and he's one of only three level three coaches in the province," Devonshire said.
Nikau said he hoped to utilise what he had learned as a player under some of the best coaches in the world.
"I played under Chris Anderson at the Storm when we won the NRL and he probably rates with Wayne Bennett as one of the best two coaches in the world," Nikau said.
"I went to a grand final under John Lang at Cronulla too and he also coached the Australian side like Anderson. Joe Gwynne at Otahuhu was another very good coach I had."
Nikau has already had coaching success this year as assistant to former Warriors prop Terry Hermansson with the national under-16 title-winning Counties Manukau team.
Waikato: Syris Nepe, Hau Wilson, Willie Rangi, Josh David, Brad Roberts, Greg Cameron, Epiha Kete, Luey Anderson, Lucus McKinnon (Taniwharau); Marrin Haggie, Heremaia Samson, Peter Reynolds (Ngaruawahia); Richard Pere, Namu Puru, Harley Randall, George Vahua (Hamilton City Tigers); George Hammond, Craig Norton, Fergus Tawera (Hukanui); Tangata Herangi, Tukua Matthews, Eru Whare, Bam Teleaga, Blair Ingram, Vern Moana-Mason (Turangawaewae), Henry Kingi (Huntly South).Like