Our Coaches

At IRAA, we firmly believe the key to unlocking potential is to learn from the best in the business.

Our team includes some of the most experienced and knowledgeable rugby coaches and players in the game today.

IRAA Courses provide participants an opportunity to work with these professionals in close proximity, including in 1:1 scenarios. This is part of the ‘International Rugby Academy Formula’ to exponentially accelerate the development of players and coaches.

April 2021 Specialist Coaches

Tatafu Polota-Nau

With 90 Wallabies caps to his name, Tatafu represented Australia from 2005-2019, including roles the 2011 and 2015 World Cup. In 2005, he was notably selected to for his first test appearance before making his Super 14 debut.

Professional roles:
Wallabies (90 caps), NSW Waratahs (142 caps), Western Force (13 caps), Leicester Tigers (46 caps)

Phil Waugh

After an impressive season with the Waratahs in 1999, Phil was selected on the Spring Tour and made his debut against England. He was named vice captain of the 2003 Rugby World Cup team, who were ultimately runners-up. He was rewarded for his performance in 2003 by winning the John Eales Medal for the Wallabies Best and Fairest Player.

Professional roles:
Wallabies (79 caps), Waratahs (136 caps)

Dean Mumm

Dean Mumm began his professional playing career at the NSW Waratahs, debuting in 2007 and earning 101 Super Rugby caps over his time at the club. He made his Wallabies debut in 2008 before signing with the Exeter Chiefs where he played from 2021-2015. In 2015, Dean earned a call up to the Wallabies where he played in the 2015 World Cup including a match vs Uruguay as Captain and a 66 minute RWC Final effort. He retired in 2017 with 56 national caps.

Professional roles:
Wallabies (56 caps), NSW Waratahs (101 caps), Exeter Chiefs (70 caps)

Rico Gear

A specialist right winger for New Zealand, Rico was considered one of the most clinical wingers in World Rugby. He scored 11 tries in 19 tests for the All Blacks for the Worcester Warriors in his starting debut, and plenty more in his professional career playing in New Zealand, UK and Japan. Rico was also part of the Commonwealth Games gold medal winning New Zealand 7s team in 1998. 

Professional roles:
All Blacks (19 caps), New Zealand 7s, Blues (35 caps), Highlanders (4 caps), Crusaders (40 caps), Worcester (66 caps), Kintetsu Liners (47 caps)

Stirling Mortlock

An inspirational leader and point scoring machine, Stirling begin his International career in 1997 at the age of 20. He went on to play 80 caps for the Wallabies and captain the side breaking point scoring records along the way.

Professional roles:
Wallabies (80 caps), Brumbies and Rebels Super Rugby (140 caps) 1036 points

David Campese

They broke the mould when they made Campo. One of the most entertaining players to ever play the game, Campese has been aptly labelled the Pelé of Rugby. Possessed with lightning speed, the ability to change direction at full pace and unprecedented imagination, Campo is Australia’s leading try scorer and one of our finest Wallabies.

Professional roles:
Wallabies (101 caps), NSW Waratahs (56 caps), Australia 7s,
ACT, Petrarca Padova, Amatori Rugby Milano, Randwick, Queanbeyan Whites, Sharks Super Rugby Assistant Coach 2005-08, Tonga 7s Coach 2010

Benn Robinson

Robinson made his Super Rugby debut for the NSW Waratahs in 2006, winning the Waratahs’ Rookie of the Year award, as well as being awarded his first test cap in the same year. Despite being seriously held back by injury, over the course of his impressive nine-year international career, he earned 72 caps for the Wallabies, finishing as one of Australia’s most capped front-row forwards of all time. 

Professional roles:
Wallabies (72 Caps), Waratahs (151 Caps)

Laurie Weeks

Laurie began his Super Rugby career at the Queensland Reds in 2009, where he earned 23 Caps. He then went on to play the majority of his professional rugby career at the Melbourne Rebels. In 2014, whilst at the Rebels, he earned Two Caps for the wallabies. He called time on his Super Rugby career in 2018 with 85 Rebels Caps to his name.

Professional roles:
Wallabies (2 Caps), Reds (23 Caps), Rebels (85 Caps)

Phil Blake

By the age of 18, Phil had already made a name for himself in the world of rugby League, winning the Dally M Rookie of the Year award in his debut season for Manly in 1982. Phil spent a few years at Manly before spending a brief stint in England playing at Warrington in 1983-84. On his return to Australia, Phil moved to the South Sydney Rabbitohs to take up his preferred position as five-eighth. In his 1989 season with Souths, Phil was named the Dally M Five-Eighth of the Year. 

Professional roles:
Manly Warringah (108 Caps), South Sydney (79 Caps), St George (32 Caps), NZ Warriors (37 Caps)

April 2021 Facilitators

Toutai Kefu

Toutai earned 60 caps for the Wallabies and 103 caps for the Queensland Reds. He most notably starred for the Wallabies winning the 1999 World Cup, as well as winning the 2000 Tri-nations title, their third consecutive Bledisloe Cup and their first series win over the British and Irish Lions in over 70 years. He is currently the Head coach of the Tongan national team and the Assistant Coach of the 1st XV at Brisbane Boys College.

Professional roles:
Wallabies (60 caps), QLD Reds (103 caps), Tonga Head Coach, Queensland Country Head Coach, Brisbane Boys College Assistant Coach

Grant Doorey

Before moving into coaching, Grant played professional rugby league for Manly-Warringah and Eastern Suburbs between 1990-1993, before playing the reminder of his career in Europe. Most notably, Grant was the assistant coach of Italy in 2003 World Cup and Japan in the 2007 and 2011 World Cups. He has also coached at Toulon, Auckland Blues and London Irish.

Professional roles:
Italy (Assistant Coach, 2003-2005) Japan (Assistant Coach, 2007-2011), Auckland Blue (Assistant Coach, 2012-2015), London Irish (Assistant Coach, 2015), Toulon (Consultant Coach 2016)

Ben Gollings

Best known for his time in the England National Sevens team, Ben is the all time leading point scorer in the World Rugby Sevens Series. Ben also has extensive professional 15s playing experience, and has successfully transitioned into coaching in both formats of the game. 

Professional roles:
England 7s (70 caps), Harlequins, Newcastle Falcons, Worcester, Toyota Shokki, Rugby Lions

Sam Norton-Knight

Sam kicked off his professional career at the ACT Brumbies in 2005 before joining the NSW Waratahs between 2006-2009, making his Wallabies debut in 2007. Sam signed with Cardiff Blues in 2009 before moving to Japan the following year where he played the remainder of his career.

Professional roles:
Wallabies (2 caps), NSW Waratahs (49 caps), ACT Brumbies (9 caps), Western Force (8 caps), Cardiff Blues (19 caps) Panasonic Wild Knights (21 caps), Kubota Spears (10 caps), NEC Green Rockets (10 caps)

Grace Hamilton

Hailing from Panuara in Country NSW, Grace started playing rugby on a University exchange in the USA.  Grace was selected in the Wallaroos for the 2016 tour of New Zealand. Grace is current the Wallaroos captain, a role first appointed to her in June 2019.

Professional roles: 
Wallaroos 2016-Present, Australian Sevens 2017, NSW Super W 2018 (Champions).

Emily Chancellor

A diverse player, Emily has played at the top level in both the Sevens and XVs versions of the game. In 2017 Emily captained the Macquarie University Rays in the inaugural season of the AON University Sevens Series. Following this, in 2018, multiple impressive performances in her debut season led to Emily being named the 2018 Wallaroos Player of the Year. She continued this form and went on to be a key performer in a winning Waratahs team in the 2019 Super W grand final.

Professional roles: 
Wallaroos, Waratahs, Macquarie Rays, Sydney University

Claudia Bell

Growing up playing Rugby League, Claudia made the jump to Rugby Union when girls and boys couldn’t play together anymore. She has since represented Sydney University, winning titles in both 15 and 7s match formats. Claudia is NSW Rugby Women and Girls Development Officer where she is successfully working to increase female participation across the state.

Professional roles: 
Waratahs, Sydney University

April 2021 Off-Field Coaches

James Holbeck

James began his impressive career at a young age, representing the Australian Schools team in 1992. He continued to work his way through the ranks, representing the Australian U21s side and then making his debut for the Wallabies in 1997. After a number of caps for the wallabies, James eventually wrapped up his international career against the British and Irish Lions in 2001.

Professional roles:
Wallabies (7 Caps), Brumbies (1996-2003), Randwick (61 Caps)

John Eales

John Eales is the most successful captain in the history of Australian rugby, winning the World Cup as a player in 1991 and as captain in 1999.  He is also the highest scoring forward in Test rugby history, mostly due to his goal-kicking prowess. In 2007, he was inducted into the International Rugby Board Hall of Fame.

Professional roles: 
Wallabies 1991-2001 (86 Caps), Queensland Reds Super Rugby 1996-2001, Brothers Rugby Club 1989-1999.

Nick Farr Jones

After playing in the 1986 Bledisloe Cup series win against the All Blacks, he played in the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 and a year later was named Australian captain, at the age of 25. Nick was captain of the 1991 World-Cup winning Wallabies and was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2011.

Professional roles: 
Wallabies 1984-1993 (63 Caps), NSW Waratahs, Sydney University Rugby Club.

Past Academy Specialist Coaches

Berrick Barnes

Berrick started his professional career in the NRL, before making a successful switch to Rugby Union. He became an integral member of the Queensland Reds, NSW Waratahs and the Wallabies, playing 51 appointments for his country. Berrick finished his career at the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan and is invested in developing our young players.

Professional roles:
Wallabies (51 caps), NSW Waratahs (43 caps), QLD Reds (45 caps), Panasonic Wild Knights (57 caps), Brisbane Broncos (9 caps)

George Smith

One of the most recognisable players of his era, George earned 142 caps over 12 years with the ACT Brumbies, and a further 111 caps for the Wallabies, making him the second most capped Wallabies forward of all time. He is also the youngest player to have played 100 test matches. His domestic and international experience make George one of the most knowledgable specific skills coaches going around.

Professional roles:
Wallabies (111 caps)
ACT Brumbies (142 caps)
QLD Reds, Toulon, Suntory Goliath, Stade Français, Lyon,
Wasps, Bristol

Shannon Parry

Rio 2016 Olympic Gold medalist and co-captain, and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Silver medalist, Shannon is one of the most decorated female athletes in Australia. She has represented the Wallaroos in the Women’s World Cup in 2010, 2014 and 2017, captaining the team in 2017. Shannon is currently in the National Women’s Sevens team who will compete in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

Professional roles:
Wallaroos, Aussie 7s (Olympic Gold Medalist, Commonwealth Games Silver Medalist)

Moana Virtue

Moana has been part of Queensland Women’s Rugby for a number of years, both playing and coaching in the Queensland Women’s XV before the inception of the Super W, and is now the QLD Reds Super W Head Coach. She notably won five straight Queensland Premier Rugby Women’s titles for Sunnybank and was also involved in coaching the Wallaroos in 2018.

Professional roles:
Queensland Women’s XV, QLD Reds Super W Head Coach, Wallaroos Assistant Coach, Sunnybank

Hosea Gear

A New Zealand winger, Hosea made his debut for the All Blacks against Australia in the 2008, and his Rugby Sevens debut in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Hosea was a lethal try scorer, making his first class debut for Poverty Bay while still at high school in 2002. 

Professional roles:
All Blacks (15 caps), New Zealand 7s, Hurricanes (70 caps), Highlanders (32 caps), Toulouse (32 caps), Chiefs (6 caps), Clermonte (17), Lyon (9 caps), Narbonne (21 caps)

Lote Tuqiri

Lote is a dual-code footballer playing both league and union at the highest level. He represented Australia in both codes as an outside back, 67 caps with the Wallabies and 9 for the Kangaroos. He is Australia’s 43rd dual code rugby international and scored the Wallabies only try in the 2003 Rugby World Cup finals against England, finishing the tournament as one of Australia’s top try scorers. 

Professional roles:
Wallabies (67 caps), NSW Waratahs (89 caps), Leicester Tigers (16 caps), Leinster (2 caps) in Rugby Union; Kangaroos, Queensland, Brisbane Broncos, West tigers and South Sydney in rugby league

Matt Burke

Matt Burke in the RWC ’99

Matt was a key member in Wallabies sides that won the 1999 Rugby World Cup, multiple Bledisloe Cups and Australia’s sole test series win against the British and Irish Lions in 2001. He is the most-capped fullback and the second highest scorer for Australia in Test rugby.

Professional roles:
Wallabies (81 caps)
Waratahs Super Rugby (78 caps)
Newcastle Falcons, Eastwood

George Gregan

George Gregan clears the ball.

One of Australia’s finest, George has the honour of being the most capped Wallaby with 139 Test matches. Making his debut in 1999, George made an immediate impact for the team. In one of the most memorable moments in the Wallabies-All Blacks rivalry, Gregan made THAT try-saving tackle on All Black Jeff Wilson that directly led to Australia winning the Bledisloe Cup.

Professional roles:
Wallabies  (139 caps)
Brumbies Super Rugby (136 caps) 
Toulon, Suntory Sungoliath,

Justin Harrison

After some stand out performances for the Brumbies, Harrison made his Wallaby debut against the British and Irish Lions in 2001. Justin would go on to play 34 Tests for the Wallabies and was a member of the 2003 runners-up squad. In 2019 Justin was appointed as the CEO of the new Rugby Union Players Association.

Professional roles:
Wallabies (34 caps)
Brumbies and Waratahs Super Rugby 
Tuggeranong Vikings, Ulster, Bath

Tim Horan

Tim Horan takes on the Springbok defence.

After making his debut in 1989, Tim Horan was a main-stay in the Wallabies side for the next decade. Arguably, one of the best inside-centres to have played the game, Tim is a dual World Cup winner and was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

Professional roles:
Wallabies (80 caps)
Queensland (119 caps )
Souths, Saracens.

Julian Huxley

 Julian Huxley is known as one of the most skilful players of his era, manoeuvring teams around the field with a strong kicking and passing game. Huxley had an ability to read a game, and the opposition, that saw him move seamlessly between fullback and fly-half within games.

Professional roles:
Wallabies (9 caps)
Brumbies, Reds, Rebels Super Rugby (81 caps)
Sydney University, Gordon, Northland
Sydney Rays Assistant Coach 2016-17, Warringah Head Coach 2018, Assistant Coach 2015-16, Penrith Head Coach: 2017-18

Rod Kafer

Rod Kafer taking on the Springboks.

Rod was the first player to have received winners medals from the major Southern and Northern Hemisphere rugby tournaments, the Super 12 with the ACT Brumbies in 2001 and the Heineken Cup with the Leicester Tigers in 2002.

Professional roles: 
Wallabies 1999-2000 (12 Caps), Brumbies 1996-2001, Leicester Tigers 2001-03, Player coach of Saracens 2004, Australian Rugby Union High Performance.

Phil Kearns

Phil Kearns in action for the Wallabies. Photo Credit: Shaun Botterill

Phil Kearns made his Wallaby debut in 1989 and was a member of of the 1991 & 1999 World-Cup winning Wallabies sides. Phil was inducted into the Australian Rugby Hall of Fame in 2018.

Professional roles: 
Wallabies 1989-1999 (67 Caps), NSW Waratahs, Randwick

David Lyons

David Lyons

Born in Orange, NSW, David is a distinguished Wallaby with 46 caps and was awarded the John Eales medal as Wallabies player of the year in 2004.  He is the President of Sydney University Football Club and maintains strong ties to his origins in regional Australia.

Professional roles: 
Wallabies 2000-2008 (46 Caps), NSW Waratahs Super Rugby 2000-2008 (100 caps), Barbarians 2009, 2008-11 Scarlets (Wales), 2011-2015 Stade Francais (France), Sydney University Football Club.

Andrew Mehrtens

Andrew Mehrtens with a clearance kick.

Regarded as one of the best five-eighths to play the game, Mehrtens was a prolific point scorer for the All Blacks and played a vital role in their dominance between 1995-2004. In 72 Tests Andrew accrued 967 points, second only to Dan Carter.

Professional roles:
All Blacks (70 caps)
Crusaders Super Rugby (87 caps )
Canterbury, Béziers Racing 92, Toulon, Harlequins 

Murray Mexted

Murray Mexted at the inaugral IRAA camp in Sydney
Murray Mexted at the inaugral IRAA camp in Sydney

Murray is an All Black captain and the founder of the International Rugby Academy.

Professional roles: 
All Blacks 1979-85 (34 Caps), Wellington 1975-86, Natal 1982

Brian Ashton

Brian Ashton at IRANZ
Brian Ashton at IRANZ

Brian is an English rugby union coach and former player. He has been head coach of the England and Ireland national teams and an Assistant Coach of England under Clive Woodward.  Brian played a key part in the launch of England Rugby’s National Academy system.

Professional roles: 
Coach – England 2006-2008, Ireland 1996-1998, England Assistant Coach 1998-2002,  Bath Rugby 1994-96 and 2005,RFU National Academy Manager 2002-2005. Player – England 1975, Lancashire, Barbarians

Dave Ellis 

Following age-grade representative rugby, Dave became a passionate coach specialising in skills. Dave has since coached for the Auckland Blues, Connacht Rugby, and the Black Ferns – and is now regarded as one of the best Skills Coaches in the world.  

Professional roles: 
Assistant Coach/Skills Coach Blues Super Rugby 2016-2018, Assistant Coach/Skills Coach Connacht Rugby Pro12, Black Ferns

Nick Leger

From his 8 years as the Counties Manukau Academy Manager, Nick possesses valuable knowledge and skills in nurturing developing players – ensuring each individual reaches their potential in the game.

Player Development Manager/Academy Manager Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union 2009-2017, Coaching Staff Samoa Under 20’s