Coventry hails Exiles’ ambition

Frank Dalleres
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Coventry was part of the coaching team to lead the Chiefs to two Super Rugby titles
LONDON Irish head-coach-in-waiting Tom Coventry has revealed that the Premiership club’s ambitious plans convinced him to abandon his native New Zealand and replace Brian Smith.

Coventry has agreed to join the Exiles in the summer, it was confirmed yesterday, after Smith was allowed to bring forward his planned departure on compassionate grounds. The 48-year-old is currently assistant boss at Waikato Chiefs, who he helped win the Super Rugby title in 2012 and 2013, and is relishing joining up with Irish in July.

“I had lengthy discussions with the board of directors at London Irish and with the significant investment that has been put into the club, especially with the new training facility, it made my decision to join a straightforward one,” he said. “The owners have a clear vision of where they want to take the club and it is a challenge I am immensely excited by and I cannot wait to get stuck in when I join.”

The Exiles moved into their new state-of-the-art Hazelwood training complex at the start of the season, eight months after the club’s takeover by a consortium of Irish businessmen. It has failed to inspire a climb up the table, however, with only winless London Welsh below them in English rugby’s top division.

Irish’s interim head coach Glenn Delaney hailed Coventry’s pedigree and welcomed speculation that All Blacks prop Owen Franks could follow his countryman to the outfit.

“I have a lot of friends in coaching who speak very highly of Coventry,” said Delaney. “He’s a good man with good values and has clearly been selected by the board as someone who will represent them.”