SINGAPORE - The Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) has appointed Suhaimi Amran as its interim national coach, filling the role that had been left vacant after former head coach Simon Mannix stepped down from the post to return to France in July.
While it is an interim position, the SRU is hoping to make it a permanent role based on his performance and the response of the national team and players.
Suhaimi, 33, a former national player, has been part of the national team's coaching set-up in various roles since 2012, including one as head coach of the men's sevens team at the 2019 SEA Games, where they finished fourth.
As a coach, he also led Singapore Cricket Club to four consecutive Club sevens titles and was part of their 2018 National League Premiership win.
In his new role, Suhaimi is focused on getting the national players back to match fitness as they prepare for upcoming competitions, following the lengthy Covid-induced hiatus.
One of the goals that he has for the sevens teams is to win the Asian Rugby sevens trophy next year, a qualifying tournament for the Asia Rugby Sevens Series, the continent's sevens circuit.
The teams are also preparing for the Hangzhou Asian Games next year as well as the 2023 SEA Games in Cambodia, where Suhaimi hopes they can attain a podium finish.
The goal he has set for the men's and women's 15s teams is to win their respective Asia Rugby Championships, which are slated to take place in January next year.
He said: "The goal is to do our best and be on the podium with a medal at the SEA Games.
"Given the absence of competition in the last two years, the short-term goal is to have teams that will be competitive and (able to challenge) the bigger teams in these competitions."
Other areas he will focus on include developing a pathway for players to improve and establishing a strong coaching team for both the men's and women's 15s and sevens teams.
He said: "What has been successful to date is working with the national teams commission of the SRU management committee to create a framework where players are easily tracked and monitored from all levels.
"This pathway ensures that athletes have a smooth transition from academy and schools upwards to age-group representation and eventually the national team.
"Constructive and immediate feedback with data from video analysis has been key to improvement of players to date as well.
"My experience as a player and working with professional coaches in a high-performance environment has shown how all athletes, be it professional or amateur, thrive on feedback that they can act and improve upon."
Suhaimi had represented Singapore in sevens and 15s from 2005 to 2015.
During his playing career, he won two Asian Five Nations Division 1 titles, a SEA Games bronze medal and was named Asia Division One's top point scorer for three consecutive seasons.
His performances also saw the SRU nominating him for the 2012 Sportsman of the Year award although he did not make the final round of candidates.
SRU vice-president Martin Williams said: "Suhaimi was appointed to this interim role, after the departure of our previous head coach, in order to provide continuity for our national teams programmes.
"He was already working in an assistant coach capacity and we are confident that he is best placed to fill this role as we conduct our programme reviews and decide on the right path forward."