Friday 24 November 2017

Anthony Foley to shine on national service

Anthony Foley will take over running the Ireland defence for the November internationals
Anthony Foley will take over running the Ireland defence for the November internationals
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

MUNSTER may not have entrusted him with their top job, but Anthony Foley's international education will continue next week when he is drafted into the national set-up once again.

Having served as forwards coach when Gert Smal was ill last season, the 38-year-old former No 8 will take over running the defence ahead of the November internationals, alleviating the pressure on Les Kiss, who will concentrate on the attacking side of things for the games against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina.

Greg Feek will also be brought back into the Ireland fold to help with the scrum but, unlike Foley, the New Zealander will balance his role with his day job at Leinster. The 62-times capped Foley was one of the three men shortlisted for the Munster coaching job last season, but they opted to appoint Rob Penney and offered Foley the forwards coach job, despite the fact that the pack is ex-Canterbury boss Penney's area of expertise.

There have been suggestions that the New Zealander has not seen eye to eye with his new colleague, but he yesterday wished him well for his month-long sabbatical, saying that Munster will fill the void internally and will welcome him back after the internationals.

"I would be really positive about it. It's great," Penney said. "We have been talking with him for about a month about that. We knew it was on the cards. It just means people within the organisation have to take a bit of a greater workload.

"He is not gone forever, he will still be in touch and we will still be working with him when he is with the national squads.

"We are comfortable that we will have everything in place to cater for any shortfalls."

Foley had been involved in discussions with the rest of the coaches about yesterday's squad announcement, Declan Kidney explained after handing his old lieutenant another opportunity within the national system.

The Ireland coach said that he has been looking at adding someone to the ticket for some time, but that this was the right moment.

"I thought our attack in the Six Nations worked out okay -- we scored a good few tries there," he said.

"Our time preparation for the New Zealand tour was at a minimum; we had six training sessions, so I could have had a dozen coaches but it wouldn't have made a penny's difference.

"We're actually very happy with our attack shape and our defensive systems.

"What we wanted was someone coming in, that we don't feel we have to reinvent the wheel, but we have a little more time with them leading into this series, and so we can then lean on the players a little bit more."

Strain

Kiss denied that doing the work of two coaches has been a strain, but welcomed the addition of Foley to the set-up.

"Working with 'Axel' will allow me to put a bit more attention and focus on certain issues of the attack shape. We've worked together on that and I've certainly had a lot more to do with that area," he said.

"It allows us to bring in someone who knows the system. We've built a good rapport over the last three or four years, Axel and I.

"There are a lot of similarities there. He's going to have a chance to jump on the top of it and put his own stamp and authority on that area."

Irish Independent

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