Tuesday 21 November 2017

Tim Allnutt: Personality of new coach looks like a perfect fit

Niyi Adeolokun is tackled by Pat Howard of Newport Gwent Dragons in the first game this season that Connacht have managed to prevent the opposition crossing the line Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Niyi Adeolokun is tackled by Pat Howard of Newport Gwent Dragons in the first game this season that Connacht have managed to prevent the opposition crossing the line Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Tim Allnutt

Despite the incessant rain in Galway, we had a good week at the Sportsground on the back of a hard-fought win. There was also a bit of a buzz around the place with the news of our new head coach confirmed publicly.

Kieran Keane will join us in the summer and having met him in Galway last week I'm really excited and positive about the appointment.

He came over from New Zealand to meet with Willie Ruane and the board when we were in Wales for our game with Cardiff.

He stayed a few days and got around the province a bit so when we got back from Wales a few more of us like Pat, myself and John Muldoon had the chance to catch up with him.

I didn't know too much about his career before he was mentioned for this role but he certainly has an impressive rugby CV and Pat speaks very highly of him as their paths would have crossed quite a bit in New Zealand.

From my own encounter with him last week, I was really impressed. He was very relaxed and laid back and his personality is certainly a perfect fit for Connacht Rugby. You can tell he's an experienced coach who knows what he wants and how he wants to go about his business. Community is very important to him and I know he'll want to continue to build on our events and work out in the wider province.

Kieran will be the fifth coach I'll have worked with in my role as team manager. Every coach is different in the way they do things but ultimately our roles remain the same. And I think with the introduction of the Strategic Plan last year, everyone at Connacht is clear in what we are trying to achieve for the province.

Before a new coach comes in, I would do quite a bit of work in ensuring the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

Outside of the rugby side of things, there is a good few logistics to ensure he settles in quite quickly. When he gets here, it should be fairly straightforward in terms of allowing him to put all his focus on the team.

We know he will be joining us after the conclusion of the Chiefs' Super Rugby season where he is currently assistant coach. As always, planning will be key to guaranteeing we have a well-structured pre-season.

Naturally, there will be some changes in the management team as happens every year but whoever is in place at the Sportsground will be working hard to ensure everything is in place for the team during the summer weeks.

While we'll work on that behind the scenes, the players are currently fully focused on this weekend's game away to Treviso. It's another massive fixture in the context of our season goals.

Treviso have always been a tough fixture for us over there. They are a well-coached side who play well at home and can cause most teams trouble on their day. We know they are one of those teams you have to wear down and take your opportunities when they come.

Like us, they won't be affected too much by the Six Nations so that's something we have to be aware of.

I thought our defence was outstanding last week against the Dragons and for the first time this season, we prevented the opposition from crossing our line. Defence will be key again this Sunday in Italy if we are to come away with a positive result.

With the trips to Italy, we always try to get there early and give the guys a chance to rest ahead of the captain's run.

It's an early flight on Saturday morning so we'll have to stay in Dublin the night before. We'll get over there early, get some good lunch and have the captain's run in the afternoon. Then it'll be back to the hotel for dinner. The boys might get some rubs and have a stretch while we chill out and watch the Ireland v France game. After that, it will be off to bed early ahead of another early kick-off at 1.30.

We're not back from Italy until Monday afternoon so it's a very short turnaround to the Friday night clash with Zebre. But with more and more players returning from injury, it's likely that the coaches will be able to rotate the team in some positions, which is a big boost.

Irish Independent

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