FORMER Samoan international Ngapaku Ngapaku has started six weeks of preparation as Newbury Blues’ new head coach following the upheaval that saw director of rugby Andy Widdop and coach Mike Marchant resign recently.The 38-year old will have former Cinderford, Clevedon and Weston-Super-Mare number eight Mike Panoho and ex-Berkshire coach Ed Richardson on hand to assist him alongside members of last season’s coaching staff.
Ngapaku - ‘Pux’ - has spent the past two seasons in a player-coaching role at Barcknell and before that had a similar stint at Bournemouth and for several season at Havant after a career that included European experience at Padova in Italy.
Ngapaku has already held sessions at the club and will shortly be joined by Panoho once he has returned from honeymoon, with Richardson helping out when work commitments allow.
Ngapaku has been impressed by the level of commitment he has seen from his new charges. My first impression is that the guys are really enthusiastic.
“It is a big job,” he added, “but we’ve just got to train consistently and get all the boxed ticked before we start the season.
“We can’t afford to go into it behind everybody else.”
With money tight, there will be no surge of new signings, but Ngapaku hopes to add a couple of experienced players “to marshal the side.”
Newbury have a training camp arranged for Saturday, August 4 a week before the first pre-season friendly at Havant. They go to Bridgwater and Albion a week later and then face Chichester on Thursday, August 23.