Jamie George and Maro Itoje have paid tribute to outgoing Saracens assistant coach Andy Edwards, who will take up a role within the Springboks’ coaching set-up.
It was recently confirmed that Edwards is vacating his position as Saracens strength-and-conditioning coach after 16 years of loyal service to the club to replace the departed Aled Walters as part of Bok coach Jacques Nienaber’s backroom staff.
Edwards joined Saracens as a player in 2004, before being promoted to senior strength-and-conditioning coach in 2009 and then head of strength and conditioning in 2014.
Along with Mike Hynard, Edwards worked closely with Saracens’ 2008 academy group which included Jackson Wray, Will Fraser, Owen Farrell, George and George Kruis.
And George believes it is his incredible commitment to the cause that has made Edwards such an important and impactful figure.
‘I can’t speak highly enough of Andy and the impact he has had at Saracens,’ said George. ‘Our group [class of 2008] has grown up together and it’s been amazing to see him develop into one of, if not the best, strength-and-conditioning coaches around.
‘I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who is as good at their job. He’s incredibly committed, knowledgeable but, more importantly, understanding.
‘I consider him one of my closest mates and I’m gutted for him to be leaving but it’s an amazing opportunity with South Africa and one he massively deserves.’
Itoje, who is touted to lead the British & Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa next year, echoed George’s sentiments: ‘Andy has been a great coach and friend to me over the last seven years whilst he has been my personal coach. His knowledge of what needs to be done is second to none.
‘He’s a great Saracen, he’s been here since he was very young, he knows the club inside and out and we’re very sorry to see him leave. It’s a tremendous opportunity for him and his family to go to South Africa and I wish him all the best and he will always be missed at Saracens.’
Saracens’ highly regarded director of rugby Mark McCall says he is sad to see Edwards go, but this opportunity with the world champion Springboks is a reflection of the quality of the club’s performance team.
‘Andy has been a hugely popular and important figure in our group for a long time. Whilst we will be sad to see him leave the club, we are also thrilled for him to get such an exciting opportunity on the international stage,’ McCall said.
‘It speaks volumes for how highly our outstanding performance team is regarded and we know that Andy will do a great job.
‘I would like to thank Andy for his friendship and for the wonderful contribution he has made to our club and wish him and Lorena all the best as they set out on a new journey.’
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