Apolo transitions from player to coach

Tovio Apolo has been a stalwart on the field for Marist St Pats for over 10 years; he would have played well over 100 Premier Reserve games along with over 50 games for the Premiers.

This season he has (largely) hung up the boots and taken the coaches clipboard for the Premier Reserve side as he continues to build on his already immense contribution to the club.

What has been the biggest change from playing to coaching?

I'd say it's the responsibilities that come along with being a head coach. From training, to following up players to team selections, there's a lot of things that happens behind the scenes that takes up a lot of time.

I'm fortunate to have a committed team of coaches and managers around me to help carry some of the load. Having Koro (John Poutawera), Sonny Whitman, Poto Masina and Luke Meredith on board has been a blessing and under Sean's guidance, it's been a great experience.

What has been your biggest learning experience?

Having played a few seasons with quite an established Premier Reserve team over the last few years, it was (and is) difficult to lose.

Our biggest loss came at the hands of HOBM a few weeks ago which was the toughest pill to swallow. Such a loss can plant doubt in your head about your ability as a coach or your team's ability as players. I had to accept the reality that we had a new team, under the guidance of a new coach, playing against some really good teams in Wellington - of course, this is still a work in progress! Thankfully, we've got a good bunch of lads who are committed to each other and turn up every week to be better. 

What is the most rewarding part of coaching?

In my limited experience as a coach, I've really enjoyed getting to know the people - from players and coaches, to managers and club members. There's such a diverse bunch of people coming together to drive our club and game which is so good to see.

It's really inspiring to see the next generation of players stepping up and taking on more of a leading role, as well as seeing coaches and managers volunteering their time to enable the players to do this. I definitely have a deeper level of appreciation for the work that goes on behind the scenes, and really value our community of rugby volunteers.

What message would you have to encourage other players to contribute in other ways to the club when they hang up the boots?

Give it a go. Whether you're in it to grow as a coach or to just be involved with something - there's no shortage of teams out there that need a helping hand. There's good support structures in place and lots of potential overseas opportunities if you want to make a career out of it.

I think it's a good way to stay connected with your rugby community as well as being a part of developing the next generation of young men and women in our game. 

The Premier Reserves are coming off their best game of the season, taking down Petone at Petone Rec last weekend. They travel to Avalon on Saturday with at 12.30pm kick off.

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