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All Blacks high performance head Don Tricker confirms move to the San Diego Padres

December 4, 2017

Wellington, NZ - - All Blacks high performance head Don Tricker confirms move to the San Diego Padres

Don Tricker, right, pictured with former Black Sox captain Jarrad Martin, is leaving New Zealand Rugby for a senior high performance role with the San Diego Padres.


Don Tricker says it is "very humbling" to become the first New Zealander to work in high performance for a Major League Baseball club, but leaving the All Blacks was a tough decision.

Tricker, a two-time world champion New Zealand Black Sox men's softball coach, will become the San Diego Padres' director of player health and performance after seven years as New Zealand Rugby's head of high performance.

The 56-year-old was shoulder-tapped by the Padres in late October after doing some consultancy work for them following the MLB club's visit to  New Zealand to study the All Blacks' winning formula.

Don Tricker is leaving New Zealand Rugby for Major League Baseball.

Don Tricker is leaving New Zealand Rugby for Major League Baseball.


Tricker - just back from the All Blacks' northern hemisphere tour - told Stuff the baseball opportunity was too good to turn down.

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"I love what I do here -  it's a great organisation with great people - and at the end of the day it was a very difficult decision to leave New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and join the Padres, and it's been pretty tough to actually explain.

"But not many New Zealanders get an opportunity to work in a high-level American sport which is incredibly competitive.

"It's very humbling and I think it will be a great challenge."

Tricker visited the Padres on a "family baseball holiday" and got a first-hand look at the scale of a MLB operation.

They have now given him a three-year contract with an option for another three years.

He will leave NZR early in the New Year and "have my feet under the desk in San Diego by the end of January.

Soon after joining the Padres, he will spend four to six weeks at the club's spring training camp in Arizona.

Tricker will work with the Padres' Major League team, its seven affiliated "farm league" teams and its academy in the Dominican Republic. He will oversee the player development programme and "what they do around analytics".

Tricker said NZR were "very respectful" in allowing him space to make his decision. "They made it clear how they valued me as a person and what I do for them".

"I've really enjoyed my work with New Zealand Rugby and am grateful for their confidence along with the opportunities they have provided. The opportunities that I've had in rugby have accelerated my growth both as a person and in the High Performance space.

"This has been a tough decision to leave my home town of Porirua – as much of what I know, and how I relate to people, comes from my upbringing in a strongly multi-cultural community.  I'm forever indebted to the Porirua community for what it has given me," he said.

But the chance to work with the Padres was "a lucrative opportunity, not necessarily from a monetary sense, but from a growth sense". 

He is leaving an organisation that has been top of the rugby world for over a century and has won two Rugby World Cup titles since he became high performance head in 2010 after co-authoring a 2008 report into the All Blacks' failed 2007 World Cup campaign.

Tricker is "incredibly proud of what's been achieved in a number of stunning campaigns" at New Zealand Rugby with the All Blacks' success and major developments for the Black Ferns, sevens and under-20 programmes.

But he is excited at the challenge awaiting at the Padres, who have never won a World Series in their 48-year history and have won just two National League pennants and five west division titles.

"The Padres are an exciting and interesting team, and they think differently – in a way there are some similarities to the All Blacks. 

"When I started with New Zealand Rugby I had an awareness of the sport but was far from a technical expert - the same can be said for the Padres.

"My role is to bring different thinking to a talented group of individuals that will enhance the performance of the Padres. 

Tricker said he had done some consultancy work with the club around "what would success look like for the Padres" and on "clarity of purpose".

The goal was to "put them in a position to be serious contenders, but it's not going to happen overnight."

He said the Padres - who have a young Major League manager in 40-year-old Andy Green - had "a lot of smart people" with progressive thinking".

"If they start going well in th next two of three years, it's not because of me. They are already doing a lot of work."

Tricker was working in the IT sector when he was coaching the Black Sox and said he was "self-reflector" who likes to "ask the right first question".

He became Sport New Zealand's high performance coaching adviser in 2002 before moving on to his rugby role.

Tricker and his wife Carey will move to San Diego and may be joined by daughter Georgia, who is looking at the possibility of studying in the California city. Another daughter, Bronte, is committed to her architecture studies at Victoria University and son Mitchell, 23, "may do an OE at the end of next year".

 While his immediate future is in America, Tricker said he was "never going to be lost to New Zealand sport".

"I'm not that far away and my phone is always on. It's your ability to trade what you know is where the real growth is, as opposed to holding back your knowledge."



 - Stuff