Wellington Lions complete coaching set-up for 2023

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Since announcing former All Black and Wellington Lion Tamati Ellison as head coach earlier in the year, Wellington has signed Greg Halford, Alando Soakai and Trent Renata.

Ellison stepped up from his assistant coach role with Leo Crowley last season while he has been a defence coach with the Crusaders in DHL Super Rugby Pacific.

As a player, Ellison completed 113 Super Rugby appearances for the Blues (1), Hurricanes (53), Highlanders (23) and Rebels (36). In addition, he played four Tests for the All Blacks and the Junior All Blacks, the Māori All Blacks, and All Blacks Sevens, including winning a Commonwealth Games gold medal in 2006 and for NZ Under-21 and Under-19.

Scrum coach Greg Halford has been retained for the Lions, while Alando Soakai and Trent Renata have been named as assistants. They face their first two Ranfurly Shield defences against Horowhenua Kapiti on July 12 and South Canterbury on July 19.

Soakai has spent 12 years in Japan with their national League One winner, the Kubota Spears. Having been a Southland captain in the NPC and a Highlander in Super Rugby, he played for Kubota from 2011-16. He was a player-coach in 2016-17 and became a full-time coach.


He was a team member of Ellison at the Commonwealth Games in 2006 and shared in the All Black Sevens 2007 World Series title win.

Renata has come through the coaching system in Wellington to gain his place. A member of New Zealand's Under-20 World Championship side in 2008, he also played for the Māori All Blacks. He played his NPC rugby for Waikato and Super Rugby for the Chiefs.

He also had a three-year stint with the Highlanders and played NPC for Otago and Tasman. He played in Italy for two seasons before ending his career with Wellington.

Ellison said he was happy his coaching group was settled.

"It's going to be an exciting season.

"Alando has had great success growing the Kubota Spears to a formidable side over the last six years. He is hungry and ready to return to New Zealand rugby. We are lucky to have him and can't wait to get into the mahi.

"Trent has committed himself to his coaching since retiring from the Lions. He's coached Tawa for several years, winning the Jubilee Cup in 2021, and assisted in the Wellington Under-19s and the Hurricanes' Under-20 setup. He has a strong connection with the Academy members and will play an important role in the coaching group this season."