The London Skolars have today announced that they have appointed Latham Tawhai as the clubs first team coach for 2006. Tawhai will be the first full time coach at the club and one of the few full time coaches in National League 2. The appointment followed an exhaustive interview process that saw over 20 candidates apply for the job.
The appointment highlights the onward and upward ambitions of the Skolars who celebrate their 10th year in existence this year.
Tawhai is a very experienced player with 10 years experience having played for Keighley, Hunslet, Rochdale, Hull KR and Doncaster and only missing the playoffs once during that time. Latham was a New Zealand Maori representative and also played in the New Zealand side that won the 1996 World Nines before moving to England to take up a contract with Keighley. In New Zealand he played for the 1994 and 1995 National Champions North Harbour. He has also represented his country at Fastpitch Softball.
Tawhai has also made an impressive start to his coaching career with involvement in the Rugby Football Leagues Service Area structures, Regional Carnivals and Performance Camps, Leeds Scholarship programme, Bulls Foundation and most notably as Head Coach of rising stars of the amateur game Drighlington ARLFC. He took Drighlington to Pennine League Premier Division Champions and Yorkshire Cup winners in the 2004/5 season. He was also given the honours of Pennine League Coach of the Year and Sportsman of the Year.
Skolars Chairman Hector McNeil is extremely excited by this appointment and other developments at the club and said �We have spent 3 years in the National Leagues to date and we feel we have gathered a huge amount of information to move forward to the next level in the club�s evolution. Hiring a full time coach and someone of Latham�s calibre is the first step to building a successful side in London. The next will be for Latham to recruit and build a squad capable of progressing up the National Leagues.
We are looking for Latham to lead the club both on and off the field and build player pathways for the burgeoning youth programme we have developed at the club and the North London area.
We really feel that we can enter the new season with huge optimism and represent London in the professional ranks of rugby league with a new vigour. Latham is a very talented young man and is extremely ambitious to succeed personally and with the club. He has impressed against some very strong candidates from all over the world. He shares the vision of the club and thinks he can lead us onwards and upwards.
Given that the club played its first game just over 10 years ago in the London League we are expecting the next ten years to be just as stellar!
I would encourage all Skolars and fans of London rugby league to get behind the club and Latham and buy your season tickets in anticipation of a great season.
An excited Latham is clearly enthusiastic about the appointment: �When I first considered applying for the post I knew it would be a fantastic opportunity. Not only as a coaching position but also to be involved with a forward thinking club who have solid foundations in place. I�ve been developing myself as a coach over the past few years and would like to thank everyone for the opportunities and support during that time, in particular Drighlington ARLFC. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and now feel I�m ready to make the step up in to the pro ranks.
The Skolars Directors have a clear view of where they feel the club can go and it�s really exciting. I like the way the club has grown organically and have made a conscious effort to walk before they run so to speak. It�s a big decision to hire a full time coach but as most National League coaches will tell you, it�s a full time job, especially if you want to do things properly which just exemplifies the way the Skolars want to do things. I am under no illusions about the challenge which lies ahead but that makes me even more enthusiastic about job.
I want to tell the Skolars fans that I will do my utmost to make the Skolars a highly competitive and attractive side. I am already working on pulling a great squad together that will build on the young and talented squad that is already here. Of course that�s only the beginning but watch this space as there will be some quality players coming in and also developed over the next few months.
I�m really buzzing about getting started!"
Tawhai will be unveiled to sponsors, fans and players at the club�s Annual Awards dinner this Saturday, 1st October.