NZC: Mike Sandle to move on as BLACKCAPS manager

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Photo Credit: New Zealand Cricket

Long-standing BLACKCAPS manager Mike Sandle will leave his position at the end of this summer to take on the role of CEO of Taranaki Rugby.

The former New Plymouth policeman turned rugby manager has been with the side since 2011 and is widely credited for playing an important role in its upward trajectory over the past decade.

As manager, Sandle oversaw six ICC men’s Cricket World Cup campaigns, including three World Cup Finals, along with last year’s World Test Championship triumph in Southampton.

The BLACKCAPS are currently ranked number one in the ICC ODI rankings, third in Tests and fourth in T20Is – and were recently honoured at the Halberg Awards as the Team of the Year.

Sandle said it wasn’t an easy decision to leave a job which had been such a big part of his life for so long, but the opportunity with Taranaki Rugby was too good to pass up.

“It’s been a huge honour and a privilege to manage the BLACKCAPS over the past decade. It’s been an incredible ride and I’ll have memories that will last a lifetime,” he said.

“I’m grateful to NZC for having the faith to appoint me back in 2011 with only rugby experience as a manager.

“I want to thank (NZC CEO) David White, (NZC High-Performance Head) Bryan Stronach and everyone at NZC for their support throughout my time in cricket.

“I especially want to thank all the players, coaches and support staff who I’ve been lucky enough to work with over the years.”

Sandle made specific mention of the three Head coaches he worked alongside during his time: John Wright, Mike Hesson and Gary Stead, and the support he received from all of them.

“There’s so much that goes into supporting the BLACKCAPS to perform at their best and there are many more people who I hope I get the chance to thank before I depart.

“I’ll really miss the BLACKCAPS and the wider cricket family but will look forward to being able to watch some games on the bank as a punter.

“I’m proud of what the team has been able to achieve in the past 11 years and am confident they’ll continue to make Kiwis proud.

“Ultimately, the opportunity to return to Taranaki Rugby, the union which gave me my first job as a manager, and to spend more time at home in New Plymouth, was too good to refuse.

“I’m just so grateful to my wife Michelle, and our two daughters Rebecca and Renee, for all the love, sacrifices and support over the years – I’m certainly looking forward to being able to spend more time with them in the future.”

The upcoming Netherlands series will be Sandle’s last with the BLACKCAPS before he takes up the job with Taranaki Rugby on April 11.

NZC chief executive David White said Sandle would be remembered as one of the rocks upon which the BLACKCAPS progress over the past nine years has been built.

“Mike’s played a massive part in driving the culture of the team and I think we’ve seen this, not only in the on-field performance, but also in terms of the values the players have carried as a group,” said White.

“He has so many qualities that make him perfect for the job: he’s level-headed and patient, measured whether winning or losing, dependable, and great under pressure and, beyond anything else, he has the respect and trust of the players.”

Mr White said NZC was excited for Sandle and wished him well in his new role at Taranaki Rugby.

“I’d just like to thank him for his commitment and dedication, and his wife Michelle and daughters Rebecca and Renee, for sharing him with us for so long.”

BLACKCAPS captain Kane Williamson said Sandle’s contribution to the team was immense and would leave a lasting legacy.

“Mike’s impact has been so much more than just a manager,” Williamson said.

“His leadership and guidance have been instrumental in shaping the BLACKCAPS culture and values.

“There’s been much change and transition over his tenure, but Mike’s remained a constant and invaluable source of stability and connection for everyone in the team and the wider NZC network.

“He’s a huge loss, but we feel very fortunate to have had him with us for so long, and it’s not surprising someone of Mike’s calibre is in high demand.

“Personally, Mike’s been on the journey for much of my international career and we’ve had so many amazing times together.

“I’m so grateful for his contribution to the team and I know we’re all going to really miss having him around the environment.”

A process for identifying and appointing a replacement for Sandle will begin immediately.

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