Thursday 22 February 2018

Ireland should be competing for World Cups, says new IRFU performance director

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

RUAIDHRI O'CONNOR

New IRFU performance director David Nucifora says Ireland should be in the mix for winning World Cups as he set the bar high at his introductory press conference today.

The 52-year-old Australian will begin his five-year stint in the newly created, powerful role on June 1 and he believes this year’s Six Nations success should be the standard to which the national team is held.

The former hooker who has coached the Auckland Blues, the Brumbies and held a similar role at the Australian Rugby Union gave a positive first impression at the Aviva Stadium.

He is familiar with Joe Schmidt having worked with the Ireland coach for three years at the Blues and said he spoke to the New Zealander before taking the job.

Whether Schmidt will thank him for setting such a lofty target remains to be seen, but when asked about what Ireland can achieve, Nucifora set the bar high.

“I think you don’t want to limit yourself at all,” he said. “We’ll talk about being world-class. You have to aim to the highest level; everything is achievable. Winning World Cups is achievable.

“You have to think like that. If you don’t think like that, you may as well pack it in. I think it’s important that we create that sense of belief

“Watching from afar, I think one thing that Joe did really well with the group is that he gave them a sense of belief. When they were in tight spots, they believed in what they were doing.

“That’s what you’ve got to have to be successful, you’ve got to have that belief.”

Nucifora will be inserted into the IRFU structure between the chief executive Philip Browne and the national coach, the four provincial coaches and the professional managers currently in place.

His role was first advertised in April of last year, but the uncertainty over the future of European rugby meant his appointment was delayed.

As for the role itself, the performance director’s duties will be broad and he will have to win over various stakeholders as he goes.

“It is a very wide-ranging role. It encompasses working not only with the national team, but very closely with all the provincial teams on the development pathway, making sure that we have the most efficient and productive pathway within Ireland,” he said.

“Our aim is to keep producing players of a world-class level to ensure that the national team has the ability to choose from a really strong pool of players. The role also looks after all of the underage teams, the age grade teams that exist off the development path in the men’s, women’s and sevens game.”

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