Tietjens relishing academy role
Doug Tietjens is looking to make the most of his first-hand experience with rugby academies now that he has taken charge of the Manawatu Rugby Academy.
The former Turbos flanker started in his new role as the province’s academy manager in March, taking over from Greg Fleming who left to coach Japanese side the Red Hurricanes.
Tietjens had been with the Manawatu Rugby Union as its coaching development manager since 2015.
He said he was looking forward to putting his own spin on the impressive work that Fleming carried out before him.
“My role is to develop players to become Turbos and to become professional rugby players,” he said.
And he knows exactly what the players are going through having spent three years in academy programmes when he was coming through the ranks.
He was part of the Manawatu Rugby Academy in 2004 and then spent two years in the Otago Rugby Academy while he was studying in Dunedin.
That time proved the launching pad for an impressive career which included 40 games for the Turbos, six for the Highlanders and 11 for Taranaki before injuries spelled an early end to his playing days.
Since then, the 34-year-old has carved out a strong resume helping the region’s coaches, from junior rugby right through to the representative levels.
But his new role will allow him to put his focus back on the players.
For Tietjens, it was an exciting opportunity to use his skills and experiences both on and off the field.
It was some of the off-field big-picture preparation that got him most excited.
“I did a sport and exercise degree down in Otago which gives me an insight into the mental skills, the strength and conditioning and the application of it and I had experience in the professional environment,” he said.
There is no lack of quality players for him to work with this year with a strong 21-man academy squad on deck.
“What I have seen so far is that there are some real good kids in there,” he said.
The squad includes four players still at high school in Feilding’s Drew Wild and Josiah Maraku and Palmerston North’s Tyler Laubscher and Stewart Cruden.
Tietjens also has Irishman Pedar Collins and Canadian Matthew Lapinskie training alongside the group as part of the Global Student Athlete programme along with a quartet of elite women’s players in Selica Winiata, Kristina Sue, Janna Vaughan and Crystal Mayes.
Turbos assistant coach Aaron Good and Manawatu Rugby Union transition manager Mike Pettman, both former Manawatu representatives, will share Tietjens’ former coaching development role.
MANAWATU RUGBY ACADMEY:
Josiah Maraku (Feilding High School) centre
Ben Werthmuller (Old Boys-Marist) wing
Adam Boult (Te Kawau) wing
Sean Pape (Old Boys-Marist) first five-eighth
Tobias Wickham-Manuel (Kia Toa) wing/ halfback
Matt Hathaway (Varsity) halfback
Bradley Fountain (Old Boys-Marist) prop
Griffin Culver (Feilding) halfback
Jack Fleury (Feilding) prop/ hooker
Tyler Moeau (Feilding Old Boys-Oroua) flanker
James Stratton (Varsity) wing
Mickey Woolliams (Varsity) lock
Drew Wild (Feilding High School) fullback
Tevita Fehoko (Kia Toa) prop
Ben Wyness (Feilding) first five-eighth
Stewart Cruden (Palmerston North Boys’ High School) first five-eighth
Tyler Laubscher (Palmerston North Boys’ High School) No 8
Matene Ruawai (Old Boys-Marist) flanker
Ian Burmeister (Varsity) lock
Cam Black (Feilding Old Boys-Oroua) midfield
Cody Hemi (Varsity) wing/ fullback
PHOTO: MANAWATU STANDARD