Rugby: Crusaders add Tamati Ellison to coaching ranks

Former All Blacks utility Tamati Ellison has signed on with the Crusaders as an assistant coach for the 2021 Super Rugby season.

On Monday, the team announced the 37-year-old will fill the position vacated by Mark Jones, focusing on team defence and player development.

Welsh native Jones chose not to return from the UK for the second year of his contract, citing complications around quarantining and the prospect of a role closer to home.

"This is a really exciting opportunity for me to coach at Super Rugby level, as part of a world-renowned team that is full of talented players and coaches," Ellison says.

"I look forward to meeting everyone, and sharing some of my experiences as a player both here in New Zealand and overseas. 

"I have no doubt I’ll learn a lot in this Crusaders environment and I can't wait for the challenge ahead."

Ellison has a wealth of experience in the Super Rugby arena, having represented the Blues, Hurricanes, Highlanders and Rebels as a player between 2006 and 2016.

At the national level, he also represented the Māori All Blacks and the NZ Sevens team, winning gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2006.

He played four tests for the All Blacks, making his debut against Italy in Rome in 2009.

Most recently, Ellison was a player-coach in the Japanese Top League with Kurita Water Gush, and was also part of the Wellington Lions coaching group during last year's Mitre 10 Cup.

Head coach Scott Robertson says he's excited to have someone of Ellison's experience join his ranks.

"Tamati is well-respected on and off the field, and we’re excited to have him add his expertise to our coaching group this season," Robertson says.

"He's a man with a lot of mana, and I know he'll make a significant contribution, sharing the experiences he had throughout a long playing career as he makes the transition to coaching."