Jackson Willison returns to Hautapu Sports to lead Waikato Premier A squad

posted in: News, Rugby

Hautapu Sports will seek back-to-back Waikato Rugby Premier crowns next season with newly-appointed head coach Jackson Willison.

Willison (34) is a rising talent as a coach, with experience in New Zealand and overseas, and is a former professional who has played in England, France and New Zealand.

Main photo: Jackson Willison … returns to the club where his career started.

Having started his club rugby journey with Hautapu Sports as a teenager, Willison played Super Rugby for the Waikato Chiefs and the Auckland Blues, and made 60 appearances for Waikato’s Ranfurly Shield-winning team.

Welcoming him back to his home club, Hautapu president Dave Simes said:

“It’s great to have Jackson and his whanau as part of our club again. He was part of the successful team that won two Breweries Shields and played three successive play-off finals in 2006-08.

“He has since had a wonderful career as a player and is now applying himself as a coach, using his knowledge and experience to inspire the next generation of players.”

Willison takes over as Hautapu’s head coach from Sean Hohneck, and will soon finalise his coaching team to defend the club’s Waikato Premier title next season.

READ MORE: Hautapu lift the Breweries Shield again after high-scoring win in grand final >>>>

Jackson Willison: The player

Willison was a member of the New Zealand Maori All Blacks between 2010 and 2013.

In 2007, he was a member of the New Zealand U-19s who won the Junior World Cup. A year later, he played for the New Zealand U-20s when they were crowned Junior World Cup champions.

After captaining Waikato in 2013, Willison was awarded the Ian Clarke Sportsperson of the Year and received the Aaron Hopa Memorial Trophy for outstanding contribution to rugby.

Following 59 appearances in Super Rugby, Willison left New Zealand to play professionally in Europe, playing Premiership rugby for English clubs Worcester and Bath, and playing in the backline for French clubs Grenoble and Soyaux Angoulème Rugby.

Jackson Willison: The coach

Willison has coached women, youth players and seniors at club, provincial and national levels.

He started his coaching career as an assistant coach, combining these duties with playing, and has built his experience with New Zealand clubs Otorohanga and Te Awamutu Sports, and English clubs Droitwich and Bradford on Avon.

He is currently an assistant coach for the New Zealand Maori U-18s sevens team and a resource coach for the New Zealand Maori U-18 side.

He has Level 2 and Level 3 coaching qualifications, achieved in England, and a Level 3 diploma as a fitness instructor and personal trainer.

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