BUCCANEERS have appointed South African coach Hendre Marnitz as their new head coach for the 2010/11 AIB League season.
Marnitz, aged just 32, is due to arrive in Athlone for pre-season in early August, having finished up as joint-head coach to the Indian national team last December.
Originally from Johannesburg but now based in Stellenbosch, Marnitz takes over after the sterling job carried out by locally-based duo Davy Henshaw and Charlie Couper, who took over the reins from Neal Culliton late last season.
It's widely acknowledged that Henshaw and Couper did tremendous work in keeping Buccaneers in Division 1B, as they guided the club to four wins in their last four league games to avoid what looked like inevitable relegation. Henshaw has now returned to coaching the club's under-21s - a role he previously filled before taking temporary charge of the first-team with Couper - while Couper is also expected to retain a prominent coaching development role at the club.
A former scrum-half, Marnitz has coached at Stellenbosch University and with the Western Province Rugby Academy, and also has plenty of experience coaching at underage and youth level in South Africa.
Marnitz said he had no hesitation joining Buccaneers, and sought advice on the club from two former Buccaneers coaches presently working at Western Province Rugby Academy.
"I see this as a fantastic opportunity and it's one I intend to embrace," Marnitz told the 'Westmeath Independent' this week.
"I'm really looking forward to the challenge and I only need to look at the calibre of coaches that Buccaneers have had in the past for inspiration, the likes of Eddie O'Sullivan, for inspiration. I'm familiar with the set-up in Irish rugby, but have to admit to not knowing too much at the moment about the quality of players or standard of the league. But I'm sure, with the help and assistance of those around me, that I'll become quickly acquainted with everything to do with Irish rugby," added Marnitz.
The South African said there will not be dramatic changes to the Buccs playing squad, saying he will firstly assess the squad's qualities before looking to recruit new signings.
Marnitz, who also has a background in sports agency and player management, said there is a possibility of recruiting some new players from his homeland, but said the current batch of players deserve a chance to impress.