New Connacht rugby coach @andyfriend2011 was interviewed by Fox Sports Australia, he talks about getting the job and year ahead. Plus we have the latest Craggy Podcast.
Friend was first asked about why he chose to take up the job and was he looking forward to it. It was rumoured that he refused the Ulster job but this was not mentioned. Friend responded to the question by saying ‘I am really looking forward to it, for me it’s a great opportunity, he said further he had an opportunity to stay in rugby sevens but he turned that down to focus on this opportunity (with Connacht). He went on to say that Connacht flew him over to meet with the team, the CEO and board amidst talks of the contract, he went on to say about this, ”I really enjoyed that, they are great people and when they offer came through it was a pretty easy one to accept”.
Asked when how the job came about Friend said that David Nucifora head of performance with the IRFU rang him about the position which came and asked would he be interested in it and she he was so a Skype interview was done with Willie Ruane CEO of Connacht and Nucifora. Friend did say he had an offer from another nation regarding to coaching rugby sevens, but said there was more opportunities in rugby union. He also revealed he spent a few days with the Ireland team and players like Bundee Aki, Quinn Roux and Kieran Marmion before Ireland’s first test in Australia to see how the whole system of rugby works in Ireland.
He went to say that they (Ireland) are very open and sharing on the way they want play the game and what the requirements were of the players, he said, ”It was very good to meet Joe and the coaching staff, as well as those three boys”.
He went on say about coaching ‘It’s about us as group of setting the standards early, he said it can’t be the coaches culture and it can’t be the players either it must be a team culture”. He basically meaning here that they all work as a team, players and coaches, he revealed that if this ”doesn’t be addressed it can fall apart for you”. He went on to say 44 players are contract at Connacht with 22 of those academy players, he said that the centralised program in place in Ireland is working and that Australia should adapt a similar approach.
Connacht side finished the 2017-18 Pro 14 season with a disappointing 7-14 record, Friend signed a three year contract in June and arrived in Galway this week hoping for a better season.