After a seven-year involvement with Dundalk, Ene Fa’atau has moved on to pastures new with Galway club Corinthians appointing him as their new head coach this week.
In his final year as player-coach, Ene Fa’atau memorably led Dundalk to their first Ulster Bank All-Ireland Junior Cup title, Leinster League Division 1A success and promotion to the Ulster Bank League.
The New Zealander originally played for De La Salle Palmerston on his arrival in Ireland back in 2005 and has developed into an accomplished coach. He worked as DLSP’s forwards coach before embarking on a rewarding seven-year stint at Dundalk.
He now has the new challenge of helping Corinthians bounce back from their recent relegation from Ulster Bank League Division 1B. The Galway side had a very disappointing 2014/15 campaign where they lost 14 of their 18 league games.
Speaking about his new position out west, Fa’atau said: “(Dundalk’s promotion) was the tail-end of a lot of hard work. The boys deserved to go up (to the senior ranks). It’s a great club, I learnt loads there and it was a nice way to finish off and leave on a high.
“Certainly, this will be a step up from what I would have been exposed to. It was a major factor in trying to challenge myself with something different, a different league, a different level at a bigger club.
“This is probably the biggest club I’ve ever been at that – that’s no disrespect to the other two (DLSP and Dundalk). Just the whole professionalism since I’ve been here has been a very good way to start.”
Fa’atau, who works as a special needs assistant at De La Salle College in Dundalk, is already looking forward to the new season at Corinthian Park and getting to know his new charges.
“From what I know and what I’ve seen, there’s a good squad there. Off the back of maybe a tough season, hopefully there’s a lot of learnings from it. All I’m looking to do is to try and improve every player individually first, and hopefully collectively as a team we can put some results together.
“Across the board, I’ll be very involved in all the teams at the club – underage, junior and up – and that’s what it’s all about, building one squad based on three or four teams. If we get that going, that will make all our jobs a lot easier,” added the Wellington native.
Fa’atau will be Corinthians’ third head coach in as many years after Phil Pretorius and Pat Cunningham, and the club’s incoming director of rugby Sean Duignan is quietly confident that the Kiwi can bring stability and improved results on the pitch.
“We had some very strong applicants for the coaching position, but after meeting Ene, we knew he was the man for it. He’s very, very impressive and given his young age, he certainly has a wise old head on young shoulders,” admitted Duignan.
“We’ve lots of plans for next season and beyond, but the main thing was to get the coaching ticket sorted and we’re delighted that Ene has come on board.”