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There's too much of an English feel around Irish rugby: Stephen Ferris wants homegrown coaches to take the lead

Former Ulster and Ireland star Stephen Ferris.
Former Ulster and Ireland star Stephen Ferris.

Former Ireland star Stephen Ferris thinks the appointment of Mike Catt as national team attack coach is a good one - but has questioned the lack of Irish coaches in key roles heading into next season.

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Catt's arrival in Ireand after the World Cup in Japan will mean that England's coaching staff from the 2015 tournament - including Andy Farrell, Stuart Lancaster and Graham Rowntree - will all be operating on these shores.

Farrell will take over from Joe Schmidt as Ireland head coach after the World Cup, with Catt coming in to run the attack. Stuart Lancaster has enjoyed huge success since arriving at Leinster as senior coach in 2016, while Rowntree will join Munster as forwards coach next season.

Speaking on Game On on 2FM, Ferris acknowledged that the English contingent have done great work in Irish rugby, and he thinks Catt's appointment will be another good one.

"They probably scoured the market to see who’s out there and Mike Catt obviously has a good relationship with Andy Farrell who is going to become the main man with Ireland," Ferris said.

"I think it’s a good appointment.

"Mike Catt is a seasoned professional with 70-odd caps for England and a couple of World Cup finals, so he comes with great pedigree and I think the lads will warm to him nicely."

However, the Ulster legend added that he is disappointed that there is a lack of Irish coaches in influential roles across the provinces and national team.

Ulster are currently led by Englishman Dan McFarland, Connacht's Andy Friend is Australian and Munster's head coach is South African Johann van Graan. The departure of Jerry Flannery and Felix Jones his backroom staff means Munster currently don't have any Irish coaches. There is only one Irish head coach, Leo Cullen at Leinster.

Ferris says he would like to see more homegrown coaches given opportunities going forward.

"Maybe slightly for me, there’s too much of an English feel around this Irish team at the minute," he said.

"I think their coaches see teams that are on the up and Munster with the appointment of [Stephen] Larkham as well, he sees that there’s an opportunity there for them to come good.

"But for me it’s almost like, Jerry Flannery - gone, Felix Jones - gone.

"I think Mark McCall is the only one that’s really sticking his hand up to say that when Andy Farrell leaves or moves on or gets sacked, you never know, that he might put his hand up to be the next Irish coach.

"I think fair play to the lads, they’ve seen opportunities, the English guys and they’re going to give it their all and you can’t doubt what they’re going to bring. Look at Lancaster and what he’s brought, Johnny Sexton loves working under him.

"But fair play to the lads and hopefully they bring a lot to Irish rugby over the coming years."


From Belfast Telegraph