Willie Poching to head home after 25 years in the UK

James Gordon
Willie Poching News Images

Willie Poching will head home to New Zealand with his wife after an unforgettable 25 years in British rugby league.

Poching, 49, arrived in the UK back in 1999, serving Wakefield and Leeds as a player with distinction.

He then became a respected part of several coaching teams, before taking up the head coach role at Wakefield in 2021, helping to preserve their Super League status last season.

Appearing on Leeds’ Box 2 – Episode Three on YouTube, Poching told Jamie Jones-Buchanan: “It’s an opportunity for us to go back and restart I suppose.

“After 25 years I’ve been here and I’ve given a little bit but taken a lot from the country. I’ve decided to go back.

“A few family things have happened over the last year at home and we’ve reflected on the birthdays, the births, the weddings and the people who have come and gone in our family that we know, but don’t know, and want to get to know, so we are going home to be part of that.

“I’ve got nieces and nephews that are coming through playing rugby league who I have never seen play. I’d like to go back, watch some of that and enjoy that with the family. That has been the big pull to go back – family.

“Whilst I say we are going to see family, we are leaving family too. My boys are going to stay here, they are embedded and entrenched in this part of the world, Wakefield especially, so they are going to stay behind to start with, live in our house.

“They are of an age now where they can start to find their way in life and make their own way but mum and dad are running away!”

Crowd favourite

Willie Poching played for Auckland Warriors in their inaugural season in 1995, before spells with North Queensland Cowboys, Hunter Mariners and St George Dragons.

The back-rower represented Samoa at the 1995 and 2000 World Cups, and also made a solitary appearance for New Zealand in the 2005 Tri Nations.

He became a crowd favourite at Wakefield, before moving on to Leeds where he was part of the 2004 Super League and 2005 World Club Challenge winning teams.

After hanging up his boots in 2006, he moved in to coaching and became assistant coach to Tony Smith at Warrington as they enjoyed Challenge Cup success.

Poching moved on to Salford and then to Hull KR, again as assistant to Smith.

In 2021, he was put in interim charge at Wakefield before taking on the head coach role permanently for 2022.

He managed a 47% winning record in charge at Trinity, but the decision was made in September that he would not continue at the club for the following season.

Trinity chairman John Minards said at the time: “When we appointed Willie as head coach, the nature of the arrangement was that we would review the position in 12 months’ time. Having reached the end of the 2022 playing season and secured our Super League status, the board have carefully considered all aspects of the past 12 months and decided that we need a change in our coaching set up as we move forward.

“Willie Poching will always be a legend at Wakefield Trinity and I am personally very grateful for the way he has conducted himself in sometimes very difficult circumstances.”

Poching was a guest on the Love Rugby League podcast back in November, when he first revealed his plans to return home.

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