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Cigna Saints announce head coach after finals weekend

30 / 07 / 2018

Paul Henare to succeed Kevin Braswell

Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare can be revealed as the next Wellington Saints coach.

He is trading places with Kevin Braswell, who is leaving the Saints to replace Henare at the New Zealand Breakers.

It was actually Braswell who recommended Henare as his successor, when he told Saints owner Nick Mills that he would be leaving at the end of the National Basketball League, which concludes with the Final Four series this weekend.

Acknowledging there was an opening in the 2019 international calendar, Henare gladly accepted the one-year deal. 

"One of the main reasons that I started exploring the opportunity of coaching in the New Zealand league was just looking at 2019 and looking at what the international calendar looks like. There's big gaping hole from the February window, which is the last of the World Cup qualifiers, through to the World Cup in August," Henare said.

"They needed a coach with KB moving on to my old job and I wanted to coach again. I'm super excited. The Saints are by far the most successful team in the competition and I guess personal positives aside, in terms of being able to coach and hone my skills, there's just so many benefits of being able to work for a successful organisation and being able to work with potentially some of the Tall Blacks players and continue to grow what we are doing in terms of our team systems.

"I think it's in my best interests and the Tall Blacks' best interests to be hands on coaching rather than just having all that time off in the lead up to the World Cup".

Mills said it was a major coup for the Saints to have a coach of Henare's calibre on board, someone he described as the most high-profile basketball coach in the country.

"It's great for him to be coaching a team with a rich history of winning and he wants to carry that on, and I think it works for both parties. We are ecstatic to have a coach of that calibre coming on board. It's a huge accolade for our organisation," Mills said.

The 39-year-old, who previously coached the Hawke's Bay Hawks and Southland Sharks before taking on the Breakers job for two seasons, joins a Saints team chasing their third consecutive NBL championship. They will take on the Hawks in the NBL semifinals at TSB Arena on Saturday, with the Nelson Giants facing the Sharks in the other playoff match.

Henare will attend the Final Four in his capacity at Tall Blacks coach, commenting that he will be a neutral spectator for one more week.

"I think I need to sit on that neutral fence for a few more days. Once it's all over I'll put my Wellington Saints hat on. But I'm really looking forward to the weekend, it's been good this year and really close and I think each of the four teams can have a crack at it."