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Opinion: How Samoa Is Taking Advantage Of Super Rugby’s Best Coaches

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 12: Waratahs coach, Daryl Gibson looks on during a NSW Waratahs Super Rugby training session at Moore Park on May 12, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Yesterday Manu Samoa head coach Namulau’ulu Alama Ieremia announced his coaching and management team for the country’s summer test lineup.

But what really stood out is the naming of high profile Super Rugby coaches involved in the team for Manu Samoa’s next three tests against Georgia on 11th June, Fiji in Suva on 18th June and Tonga in Apia on 25th June.

Richard Watt, the forwards coach for Wellington’s Hurricanes has been named as assistant coach for the tests and Daryl Gibson, the current New South Wales Waratahs head coach is taking on a role in Samoa’s backroom staff.

Both are joined by Grant Henson, the scrum coach for ITM Cup team Counties Manukau.

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 20:  Head Coach Daryl Gibson of the Waratahs looks on prior to the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Waratahs at AMI Stadium on May 20, 2016 in Christchurch, New Zealand.  (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

By utilising the experiences of Watt and Gibson for a short period, Manu Samoa is gaining world-class coaching from two of the biggest names in Super Rugby, whilst the two coaches are transferring their knowledge, understanding and approaches to an international environment. Essentially, it’s creating an international coaching pathway for two of Australia and New Zealand’s brightest prospects.

When Warren Gatland and Eddie Jones were brought in to coach Wales and England respectively, they were also charged with helping to promote and grow Welsh and English coaches so there could eventually be a clear line of succession.

Given both the WRU and the RFU resorted to overseas head coaches in the first place implies a dearth of quality homegrown management talent, so using backroom staff positions in national set-ups allows experienced individuals like Gatland and Jones to oversee and mentor these coaches.

This is why Gatland has stuck with the likes of Robin McBryde, Robert Howley and Neil Jenkins, and Jones has appointed English coaches in Steve Borthwick, Paul Gustard and Neal Hatley.

BATH, ENGLAND - MARCH 01:  Eddie Jones,(L) the England head coach, looks on with forwards coach Steve Borthwick during the England training session held at the University of Bath on March 1, 2016 in Bath, England.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Additionally, Eddie Jones has used the Saxons summer tour to South Africa to provide up-and-coming individuals like Exeter’s Ali Hepher, Wasps’ Andy Titterrell and Northampton’s Alan Dickens the chance to develop and refine their skills as international coaches by playing two tough tests against a strong South Africa ‘A’ outfit away from home in a hostile environment.

However, opportunities for top British and Irish coaches to work with Tier 2 and 3 countries during the summer break might help to improve both the nations involved and the individual figures taking on backroom roles. Imagine if say Jim Mallinder or Rob Baxter or some of the many developing coaches in the Premiership used the summer break to spend a few weeks working with Romania, Japan, Georgia, Namibia or another emerging nation. It would be a symbiotic relationship that would be win-win for all involved.

England coach Eddie Jones earlier in the year said English coaches need to test themselves abroad to develop themselves as individuals, but this concept could be a way to allow those involved to improve without leaving their existing employment.

It might not be the same as working in the Super Rugby tournament, but opportunities for non-Australasian or South African coaches in that tournament are limited anyway given the way the franchises are run by their respective governing bodies.

For the time being, Samoa and the coaches involved will both benefit from their agreement. It will be fascinating to see how Manu Samoa fare in their three tests this summer.

Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.