After a couple of seasons with Pt Chevalier in the Auckland first division, Zane Pocklington is heading across town to Marist in 2019 to assume the head coaching role with the Saints.
Here’s our chat with him ahead of the pre-season kicking off.
When I sat with [club chairman] Tony Laiman and a couple of the other guys on the committee, it was about their vision for the club moving forward, and their community sense. I had a good time with Pt Chevalier and Glenora in my career so far, so this is the next step.
I wanted to come somewhere that is still in my community, but somewhere that probably hasn’t had the same success as some of the other clubs in recent times. In many ways it is about returning to my roots.
You’re going from coaching the best team in the competition, to one who struggled last year and finished at the bottom. Does that change the way you will coach at all?
In regards to talent, Marist have a lot across the board, and you can see that by the number of NRL boys who have made it from Marist. Their squad is always good – it’s just trying to find what works for them.
I can’t just use what I have in the past, so I’ll need to spend some time with the boys and find what works for them as we move forward. I’ll have an approach, but they will be different to Pt Chevalier in the way they want to play, but we will work it out.
Marist had some of the best young players in the Fox last year, but how different will it be heading to their relatively inexperienced team, after you spent years coaching a club who had the likes of Tevita Late, Siua Otunuku and Jeremiah Pai, who were effectively coaches on the field for you?
When you look at Pt Chevalier, guys like Tevita and Siua, that experience can’t be taught. But Marist have some real experience in their too, with the likes of Misi Ma’u and Toleafoa Leaupepe. They have that, but it’s probably more more putting some experience in around the halves and spine.
You’ll be co-coaching with Francis Meli, how are you feeling about that?
Excited. After my first couple of meetings with Francis, I just found it was so good to feed off what he had learned in his long NRL career. But also what he has done with Kelston Boys’ High School. As a coach I always want to learn as much as I can, so I am looking forward to that. It’s about me learning as much off him and the others guys as I can, so I can get better as well.
What will constitute success for you in 2019?
Obviously I don’t want to set huge expectations. But I don’t go anywhere expecting to lose
I expect us to be successful, and that will start with our culture, but I also don’t see why we can’t compete with the top teams. The minimum is to make the eight. Marist have a world of youth and talent, so we are looking at that middle pack.
Look at Otahuhu, one year back in the Fox last season and they did great. I don’t see why that can’t be us.
You worked with a number of Marist juniors at the Pirates, is there any desire from them to maybe return to the club in 2019?
It’s Marist’s 100-year anniversary and we would love to see the likes of Keni [Gavet], Chrissy [Sio], Simon [Luafalealo], and Corey Seator comeback. Whoever turns up, we will utilise them. I would love to have those guys, but my priority is to look after what we have with us now. I’d love to see Chrissy and Ken back in the Green and Gold, but at the end of the day its hard to leave a club that’s winning Fox titles.