The Ospreys have announced that Filo Tiatia will take up a player-coach role, as part of a three year deal that keeps himat the Liberty Satdium until the end of 2011/12 campaign.
The Wellington-born back-rower has signed a new three-year deal that will see him remain an Osprey until at least the end of the 2011/12 campaign.
His coaching duties will see him working with the senior squad on the tackle/contact area where he will use his undoubted expertise to help develop his peers. In addition, he will also work closely with the age group coaches, assisting with the review/feedback process and ensuring an alignment in coaching structures throughout the set-up.
A huge favourite with Ospreys fans, Tiatia arrived at the Liberty Stadium in the summer of 2006 after spending four years playing for Japanese side Toyota Verblitz. Capped twice for New Zealand in 2000, Tiatia has been a huge success for the Ospreys, on and off the pitch, making 63 appearances and scoring seven tries since making his debut against Edinburgh at the Liberty Stadium in the first game of the 2006-07 season. He has been in inspirational form in recent weeks, most notably when he scored the late match winning try against Cardiff Blues on New Year's Eve, on the way to picking up the man of the match award.
Off the field, Tiatia has proven to be just as influential during his time at the region to date, enjoying a period as defence coach at Swansea RFC before becoming an age-grade coach within the Ospreys Academy over the last two seasons. His leadership and communication skills have seen him play a leading role in the ongoing development of a number of younger Ospreys, something that he says he wants to continue in his new role.
"It's an exciting challenge for me over the next few seasons, combining playing with coaching and I'm really looking forward to not only working with my peers on the training pitch, but also working with the rising stars of Welsh rugby in the Academy," explained Tiatia.
"A move into coaching has been on my agenda for a little while; when I signed my last contract 10 months ago it was something I said that I wanted to experience. I'm grateful that having seen what I can do, the guys here have the confidence in my coaching ability to offer me this opportunity.
"I've no intention of giving up playing just yet, I feel that I've still got a lot to offer on that front, so in the short term it will be a case of balancing the two components. It will no doubt mean some long days but I'm used to that through working with the under-18 side already. The first priority will be my own performance, and ensuring that my teammates and myself are reaching the standards we all expect. Over time, no doubt, that focus will change and I will work more on the coaching side and play less, but at this moment in time I don't see there being too much impact on what I'm doing day-to-day.
"The next three years will be an important time for me personally, as I look to develop and make the transition from player to coach. There are some great coaches here at the region in Sean Holley, Jonathan Humphreys, Gruff Rees and Andrew Millward that I can learn from, and I hope that my input and assistance over the coming seasons will be appreciated."
Andrew Hore, Ospreys Elite Performance Director, added: "We are delighted to be able to elevate Filo to this new position. He has made a tremendous impact during his short time at the region and this is the natural progression for him. His leadership skills have been well documented, he has proven to be a hugely influential individual on and off the field and we feel that he is ready to take the next step in his career."