Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Irish set to augment staff

Rugby director Brian Smith has revealed London Irish will look to strengthen their coaching ranks for next season.

London Irish will look to bolster their coaching team for next season, according to rugby director Brian Smith.

Last week's board takeover led by waste management company Powerday has secured The Exiles' long-term future.

New recruit CJ Van der Linde is the first capture of the new era, and the World Cup-winning tighthead will make his debut in Friday's Aviva Premiership trip to Sale Sharks.

Rugby director Smith said Irish will not seek further playing recruits for this term, unless to offset serious injury.

New board investment will bring stability and new signings for next season though.

And former England attack coach Smith admitted there could be a backroom-staff revamp too.

"At the moment in terms of personnel we're okay," he told Press Association Sport.

"Whenever we have a significant injury we'll look for cover.

"But by and large now the squad that's here will get the season done.

"And then we'll set our sights with a fresh squad going forward.

"There's likely to be some new players coming into the group, and on the back-room side as well, there's a chance to look perhaps at how we could do things better there and put some more resource into the back-room staff as well.

"It's my role to make sure we've got the right players and support crew involved, and that we're moving forward, and we're turning tight losses into tight wins."

Smith's April 2012 return to Irish after his England stint led to head coach Toby Booth eventually moving to Bath.

Irish's academy coach Neal Hatley followed Booth to the Recreation Ground.

Former Nottingham boss Glenn Delaney has slotted in as forwards coach in Smith's second Irish stint.

Backs coach Richard Whiffin was part of the England Saxons set-up in 2009 and helped Argentina prepare for Rugby World Cup 2007.

Irish do not currently have a defence specialist, and this could be where Smith aims to recruit.

Tipping 70-cap Springbok Van der Linde to add ballast to the tight exchanges, Smith said Irish must "out-Sale Sale" on Friday, especially if the North West microclimate does its rain-soaked worst.

George Skivington and Ian Gough will offer second row bite at Salford City Stadium, returning after Irish's Amlin Challenge Cup fortnight.

Irish sit 11th out of 12 in the Premiership, and Smith admitted clashes with fellow strugglers Gloucester and Worcester after Friday's Sale contest have teed up a pivotal Christmas run.

Smith said: "We've got some artillery there that we've been holding back for the last two weeks, with good reason.

"These next three league games are massive for us, and I think we're a good enough rugby team to win all three.

"But we've definitely got to step up to the plate.

"On a Saturday afternoon when the sun's shining you can play the brand of rugby we love to play, and move the ball around.

"But if you go in with the intentions of doing that on a Friday night in Manchester, it simply won't suit the conditions."

Sale prop Eifion Lewis-Roberts will make his 100th Premiership appearance if he joins Friday's fray from the bench.

Former London Welsh captain Jonathan Mills has challenged Sale to start their Christmas league schedule with a win, especially with trips to Leicester and Newcastle in the festive offing.

"Friday is the start of three crucial Premiership games for us," Mills told the Manchester Evening News.

"And if we can win two out of those three games it will really set the season up for us."

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