Highly rated Irish coach set to join Sharks

Leinster academy manager Noel McNamara will make a move to the Sharks to join the current coaching staff under Sean Everitt.

McNamara, who was head coach of the Ireland U20s from 2018 to 2020, will link up with the Durban-based side ahead of the upcoming United Rugby Championship, which gets under way in September.

McNamara is expected join as an assistant coach – possibly in charge of the attack and backs – under Sharks head coach Everitt, who recently signed a contract extension with the club.

The IRFU confirmed that McNamara would be joining a South African franchise in “a senior role” next season, while he said he was looking forward to the opportunity.

“I am grateful to the IRFU and Leinster Rugby for helping to facilitate this move which will be another great learning and development opportunity for me as a coach,” he commented.

“I have received great support to date on my coaching journey garnering experience with multiple underage teams, exposure to senior provincial and national coaches and getting the opportunity of a three month placement with North Harbour in New Zealand. This appointment is exciting for both me and my family and I am looking forward to getting started.”

He would effectively be replacing David Williams, who has joined Bath as the Premiership team’s new attack coach.

Highly rated in Ireland, McNamara has also worked with the Ireland U20 team and guided them to a Grand Slam in 2019. He had a short stint in New Zealand in 2018 with North Harbour in the Mitre 10 Cup.

The Sharks will join the URC along with the Bulls, Lions and Stormers and will face regular games against teams from Ireland, Scotland, Italy and Wales.

During a recent virtual media briefing to discuss the URC, Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee said the move to the northern hemisphere would require them to consider adding resources to their management with experience of those conditions.

“It will require a mindset change, and even from a player-contracting point of view. A European winter compared to a South African winter is completely different …

“So, if we’re going to be playing through a northern-hemisphere winter, you know there will be heavy fields and lots of forward play. So we will have to look at strengthening our tight five, and perhaps also bringing in some coaches with European experience and expertise.”

McNamara is not the first Europe-based coach to move to South Africa in recent times, with Felix Jones and Andy Edwards currently involved in the Springbok set-up.

David Nucifora, IRFU performance director, commented: “Noel is a smart and ambitious young coach who has achieved success at underage level. This is an exciting senior role for Noel in South Africa, where he will be exposed to a different rugby and coaching culture and which will no doubt greatly benefit his development.

“Noel has progressed through the coaching pathway in Ireland and in recent discussions with Noel, it was clear that he was in need of a fresh challenge that would help accelerate his coaching career. We looked at different environments and what could be a good fit and this definitely offers a fantastic opportunity in a senior role.

“Noel’s time in South Africa is sure to benefit Irish Rugby in the future. We wish him well and will be monitoring his progress closely.”

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack