Tuesday 19 February 2019

Fogarty open to role as scrum coach in new Ireland set-up

Scrum coach John Fogarty. Photo: Sportsfile
Scrum coach John Fogarty. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

When he takes over as Ireland coach in the aftermath of next year's World Cup, Andy Farrell will have a couple of key appointments to make.

One of those, the identity of his attack coach, has been the subject of plenty of speculation in recent weeks but the other has largely slipped under the radar.

Greg Feek took one step out the door when he moved to Japan after the Six Nations. He currently combines his role as a head coach of the NEC Green Rockets in the Top League with his position as Ireland's scrum coach but next autumn he'll step away fully from his Irish role.

Internally, Farrell has a number of options to choose from and, having followed Feek into the job as Leinster scrum coach after Marco Caputo's brief stint, John Fogarty is one of those who could be asked to step up.

The former hooker works closely with five of the front-rows who featured in the win over the All Blacks last month and has helped turn the Leinster scrum into one of the most potent weapons in the European champions' armoury.

He admits that it is still early days in his coaching career and that the players he is working with make the job easier, but Fogarty would certainly be interested if the former England dual-code international came calling.

"As a player, I wanted to test myself at the highest level and that is the highest level," he said.

"As a coach, I want to be able to coach as high as I can go. That is the ambition. Again, arriving at that point at the right time is the most important thing as well.

"From the IRFU's point of view, or my point of view, it is making sure I'm able to deliver.

"I'm still learning. I see myself as a young coach that's still very much learning. Every year throws up new challenges. The group, having four looseheads and four tightheads, having that change of players continually challenges us as a group and me as a person.

"In my head, I'm still learning so much about the game and the different challenges it can throw up."

"I do feel I can add value. I am adding value here, I hope. I do feel I could. That's as far as I can talk about it. I've not been talking to anybody about it."

Like everyone else at Leinster, Fogarty's primary concern is on his old team Connacht who come to the RDS on Saturday.

And preparations haven't been helped by the fact that their large contingent of Ireland players spent the last two nights in national camp and will return to training at UCD today.

Given the four provinces are all affected by call-ups it is designed to have an equal impact, but as bulk suppliers Leinster lost more players than most. But Fogarty won't be using it as an excuse.

"It can be (difficult) yeah. You would be kind of used to it," he said. "You're planning for it. Leo (Cullen) is really good at that stuff where he will have the big picture.

"He will map out how he wants the weeks to run, communicate with the people involved.

"Probably the most important part is what the week will look like for them. He has been going about his business doing that.

"That helps in a week where you have a camp followed by an important game.

"That is the nature of it, November breaks, these camps, Six Nations, it is something we are learning about how to co-exist with Ireland and it's working quite well."

Analysis

Fogarty explained that the players will be required to fit their video analysis preparation around their Irish work and they'll be expected to hit the ground running today.

All of the provinces will be juggling their resources over the course of three rounds of inter-provincial games in the coming weeks.

Rob Kearney could feature against Connacht after missing last week's game with a dead leg, while Munster will be without Chris Farrell for their trip to Belfast.

"The intensity certainly is not going to drop," Johann van Graan said of the challenge of managing the squad in the coming weeks.

"The challenge for all teams across Europe, specifically in Ireland will be the block of two European games, the three inter-provincial derbies and then two European games again - how you manage that to make sure that once you get to Gloucester and Exeter you have enough legs in your squad to come through.

"These derbies are pretty important, this year we've got two away and only Leinster at home - having the European champions coming on the 29th is a pretty special occasion. Balancing all of that will be crucial."

Irish Independent

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