Rugby

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Anthony Foley set for full-time role as defensive coach

Munster legend in line to become permanent Irish defensive coach if Kidney gets contract extension

Conor George

Published 21/11/2012|05:00

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ANTHONY FOLEY could be in line to join the Ireland set-up as defence coach on a full-time basis.

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But only if Declan Kidney stays on as head coach beyond this season. Kidney's contract – as well as those of his coaching team – is up at the end of the Six Nations and while there is no suggestion that the players are tiring of the ticket that has been in place since 2008, results could force a change.

An Irish loss to Argentina on Saturday could result in the side dropping out of the top eight in the world rankings and facing a particularly difficult World Cup 2015 Pool draw, which would be particularly hard to wear after the Hamilton humiliation to New Zealand.

An Irish win, though, could be the tide that raises all ships and would send Ireland into the 2013 Six Nations on a high with the added benefit of having their marquee players back.

At that stage, Ireland will be two years out from the World Cup and may well maintain faith with Kidney and his coaching lieutenants, which could, by then, include Foley (right) on a full-time basis.

The former Munster and Ireland back-row is believed to be finding life difficult in Munster as he adjusts to working under Rob Penney, having been in for the job of head coach himself.

He is contracted to the IRFU to the end of this season and a long-term position with the Ireland team could solve any potential problem of how to accommodate a coach the IRFU have invested heavily in.

It helps that Foley has proven to be extremely popular in the Irish set-up. He has greatly impressed the players when filling in as forwards' coach for Gert Smal last season and is extremely well thought of in his current role as defensive coach.

He is also understood to have impressed hugely with a rousing speech during the squad's first week together and the pride the players took in holding Fiji scoreless last weekend was evident. Donncha O'Callaghan, in particular, highlighted just how much the players wanted to earn Foley's approval.

His future is by no means tied to that of Kidney's – or vice versa – but the relationship between the pair has always been extremely good and a full-time appointment for Foley would certainly help bolster the coaching ticket for the challenges that lie ahead.

Meanwhile, Argentina playmaker Juan Martin Hernandez will undergo a fitness test tomorrow on the injury that kept him out of their defeat to France.

The 30-year-old is expected to be named in the Pumas team, but speculation is mounting that the 24-year-old Bordeaux Begles fly-half Nicolas Sanchez could hold on to the No 10 jersey, with the Racing Metro man, returning to the full-back position where he made his name.

Irish Independent

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