Tonga have signed former Saint Stanislaus’ College student and Australian international Tim Lane to help guide the islanders’ build up to the next World Cup.
Lane, as well Dave Ellis and Mark Bakewell will work as assistants to Mana Otai on two-year contracts which are open for extension to after the 2015 World Cup.
Tonga fell just short of making the play-offs in last year’s World Cup when they beat eventual finalists France 19-14 in pool play, but were surprisingly beat by Canada which cost them a qualifying position.
Ellis was then the defence coach for France, who were narrowly beaten by the All Blacks 8-7 in the final, while Bakewell was head coach of Bath before moving to the Melbourne Rebels.
While flyhalf Lane was a crucial member of Stannies’ first XV, it was on a bigger stage that he really made a name for himself in rugby union.
He represented NSW and won three caps for the Wallabies before moving into coaching.
In 1998 he took on the job of an assistant coach for the Wallabies, mentoring the back-line, during which time the team successfully won the Bledisloe Cup, Tri-Nations and the 1999 Rugby World Cup.
He has also spent time coaching at Clermont Ferrand in France, as an assistant back line coach for the Springboks, had a stint with the Italian national side and in 2008 was appointed head coach of the Georgia national rugby union team.
Lane was a contender to take on the NSW Waratahs before the job went to Michael Cheika.
He spent this season guiding the Manly Marlins, who reached the Shute Shield preliminary final against Souths which they lost 41-22.
“It’s obviously a disappointing way to finish up if I do go elsewhere,” Lane said at the time.
“Two years in a row we have got to the final and fallen over both times. This year we had an opportunity but we just couldn’t take it on the day.”
But now Lane will turn his focus to finding success with Tonga.
Tonga, with their new coaching team, will go into training this month before their end-of-year tour where they will play Italy in Brescia on November 10, the United States in North Wales on November 17 and Scotland at Murrayfield on September 24.
“It’s great because people see the potential in Tonga rugby and they want to join and we are very lucky,” Tonga Rugby Union’s high performance manager Peter Harding said.