Coach Nils’ front-row seat with All Blacks


One lucky Queenstowner invited to hang with the All Blacks during training says it’s been an honour. 

New Zealand men’s ski team coach Nils Coberger was embedded with the world’s top rugby team in Auckland this week as they prepared for their first game of the season against France on Saturday. 

For three days he enjoyed full access to the team and their coaching staff. 

“I’m pretty much the only one in there without All Blacks’ kit on so I feel pretty special and very honoured to be included in the group. We had all the new moves up on the blackboard this morning,” he tells Mountain Scene on Tuesday. 

Rugby-mad Coberger – who’s coached some of the world’s top skiers during the past 25 years – was invited by mate and former Queenstowner Darren Shand, who has been All Blacks manager for eight years. 

“In my own field of skiing I’ve sort of reached the top so to look at the most professional sporting organisation in NZ and learn from systems they have in place is amazing.” 

Coberger noticed one big difference between All Blacks and top ski racers: “There’s no princesses in the All Blacks – today it was pelting down with rain and at the end of the session, everyone picked up the balls and the training kit. 

“In [some elite] ski teams, if it was a wet, shitty day of training, they’re out of there. 

“I guess the brand or the team of the ABs is more important than any individual within it, whereas in skiing, Bode Miller is bigger than the US ski team, and the same with [ski stars] Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso,” Coberger says.