Former All Black Brad Mika has taken over as head coach of the Malaysia side.
Having played a role in this year’s ARC Top 3, Mike takes charge as his side look to build on the exposure and experience gained from playing in Asia’s elite competition.
We sat down with Mika to look at his plans for Malaysia moving forward.
Asia Rugby (AR): What brought you to Malaysia and how has the experience been so far?
Brad Mika (BM): I was living and coaching in Melbourne and I got a call from one of the Tan brothers as they were looking for a director of rugby for Sabah and the Borneo Eagles.
It was a challenge and an opportunity so I jumped at it. It’s been awesome, I love the country and the people especially where I live. I have built many friendships and relationships with people not only and for now I call it home.
I owe it to the Tan family and the people of Sabah for what they have done for me in the last three years and I’m so grateful for.
AR: What does it mean to now be the head coach of Malaysia?
Brad Mika: I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be head coach of Malaysia it’s both an honour and a privilege to be given the opportunity. When I first started off coaching my ultimate goal was to coach professionally at the top level and I guess this is one of the steps I need to go through to achieving that goal.
Rugby has been my life since the age of 5 years old when I first played and it’s taken me all over the world which I’m blessed and grateful for. I’m very passionate about the game and I take pride in seeing players and coaches grow to new levels.
AR: After a successful Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification campaign, what is next for the team?
Brad Mika: I think this last campaign was a eye opener for the boys both in terms of the level and intensity of the game and also the experience and how professional you need to be to compete against the other teams.
My team will be selected from the Agong Cup tournament that will be played in November. Following that I will select a group of the best 45 players in Malaysia who will camp for a week and play a one off match against each other to choose the final squad and the best players. Following that the journey will begin.
AR: What impressed you most about the Top 3 this year?
Brad Mika: What impressed me the most about the boys this campaign was the way they conducted themselves through the tournament. Despite the scores the boys were willing to learn and get better and the heart they showed and determination was a credit to them. Hong Kong and Korea are all professionals and have been running their program for the last three years.
Due to money constraints we can not make our boys professional and therefore we have to make do with what we have and have been given. As long as the boys continue to be willing and open to learn then we can bridge the gap by providing them with the right tools, structures, and skills to compete in this competition.
AR: How will you look ahead to the RWC 2023 qualification campaign?
Brad Mika: In terms of the 2023 campaign we need to be better prepared than we were the last time.
The big things that came out of the postmortem were the fitness and conditioning of the players. As well as building a sustainable team culture where values are set and the team is seen to be adding to those values that have been set.
If you can gel a team and make the players feel as if they are contributing and giving to the team values then you will find a more complete outfit.
We also need to be playing stronger competition regularly so that the boys are used to the intensity at that level. If we can bridge that gap then we have a better chance of doing well in the future.
AR: How do you intend to continue the growth in Malaysia through your coaching?
Brad Mika: Growth in Malaysia in rugby development is very important. We need more people playing the game both boys and girls, as well as having the top team and focusing on their growth.
We need to address the lower levels as well the younger grades, if we don’t we will suffer as a country. It starts with the top and filters down right down to school level. Coaches and teachers at various levels need to be proactive and need to be up skilled and taken through their paces.
Holding different coaching camps and clinics around the country for them as well as the kids will only see the game grow in Malaysia. It’s important that we continue to do this so that it makes it easier for the kids to transition as they go on to higher levels. Creating a sustainable program and a pathway for coaches, teachers and players to aspire to will see the game expand in Malaysia.