Willie Swann’s coaching career has received another boost following confirmation he has been appointed as the Auckland Vulcans’ new coach for the 2013 New South Wales Cup campaign.
He steps into the role to replace 2012 Vulcans coach Ricky Henry, who was last month named as one of the Vodafone Warriors’ two assistant NRL coaches.
In announcing Swann’s signing, Vodafone Warriors general manager football operations Dean Bell and Vulcans general manager Steve Brewster also jointly confirmed 2010 Vulcans coach Brent Gemmell will work alongside Swann as assistant coach next season.
Swann has earned his third coaching promotion this year. In February he was appointed Vodafone Warriors development coach following Henry’s departure to coach the Vulcans and just last month the former Vodafone Warriors player was named as the Vodafone Junior Warriors’ assistant coach for the 2013 NYC season. Now he takes another step up.
“Willie has shown great potential as a coach working his way through the Auckland club scene and then through the Vodafone Warriors’ system,” said Bell.
“Following our in-season and post-season reviews this year, we’re making a bigger investment than ever in the Vulcans.
“In line with (head coach) Matt Elliott’s whole of club vision, it’s critical for our coaching and player pathways that our approach through all of our teams is fully integrated. Through Willie’s appointment, we’re able to maintain consistency in our coaching approach.”
Brewster said Swann’s graduation underlined the Auckland Rugby League’s commitment to raising the level for both local coaches and players through the Vulcans.
“A number of players and coaches have benefited from the opportunity provided by the Vulcans,” he said.
“Our last two coaches Richie Blackmore and now Ricky Henry have come through the Auckland Rugby League system at club level, have coached the Vulcans and have gone on to coaching roles at a higher level.
“Willie has done the same. His appointment reinforces the opportunities on offer to coaches through both the ARL and the Vodafone Warriors.”
Swann, who played for the Vodafone Warriors’ colts and reserve grade sides in 1995-1996, is one of three from the family with connections with the Vodafone Warriors. While he didn’t play at first-grade level for the club, his brother Anthony and cousin Logan both did, as well as playing for the Kiwis.
Usually a halfback, Willie Swann pursued coaching after a playing career which was highlighted by professional stints in England with the Warrington Wolves (1996-1998), Rochdale Hornets (1999-2000) and Leigh Centurions (2000-2005). A Junior Kiwi in 1993, he represented Toa Samoa at the 1995 and 2000 World Cups.
Also a qualified teacher, he’s a dean at Liston College in Auckland. He coached the East Coast Bays Barracudas in the Auckland club competition from 2009-2011 and last year he was appointed as head coach at his old club Marist for the 2012 season before joining the Vodafone Warriors.
Three other Vulcans positions have also been confirmed with Mick Lacey re-appointed as the football manager and Nick Webb and Simon Keepa appointed the team’s trainer and physio respectively.
With Swann moving to his new role, Kelvin Wright becomes the Vodafone Junior Warriors’ new assistant coach. Wright stepped into the coaching scene last year after a long and successful playing career including representing New Zealand Residents, Auckland, the Vulcans and Mount Albert. He began coaching with the Otara Scorpions in the Auckland competition last year before guiding the Bay Roskill Vikings in the Fox Memorial premiership this season.