WARREN GATLAND has raided Wales’ backroom team by hiring 10 of Cardiff’s finest – including their CHEF!
The Kiwi boss has put the finishing touches to his coaching set-up ahead of jetting off to the southern hemisphere next month.
Head of strength and conditioning Paul Stridgeon and top doc Prav Mathema are a part of a number of returning tourists from the Six Nations champions.
Eddie Jones’ well-liked S&C coach Jon Clarke has also got the nod as England’s only representative in the Lions’ backroom staff.
After nabbing so many staff from his old employers, ex-Wales boss Gatland said: “I am thrilled to have secured a world-class performance team.
“For obvious reasons this summer’s Lions Tour to South Africa will be a bit different.
“It will present a number of unique challenges, not only for the players, but the staff too – who all work so incredibly hard behind the scenes.
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“I feel reassured when I see the calibre and experience of each individual I have been able to assemble.
“And I know that whatever challenges we may face on Tour we’ll deal with them in the best way possible.
“I would like to extend my thanks and gratitude to the four home unions for the flexibility and cooperation they have shown in releasing their employees.”
Fellow New Zealander and current Wales boss Wayne Pivac sent his trusted aides off with his full backing.
He said: “I would like to fully congratulate all those from our management team who have been appointed to Lions roles this summer.
WARREN GATLAND'S LATEST LIONS HIRES
Prabhat Mathema – Head of Medical (WRU)
Dr Geoff Davies – Doctor (WRU)
Dr Ciaran Cosgrave – Doctor (IRFU)
Bob Stewart – Physio (RFU)
John Miles – Physio (WRU)
Ann-Marie Birmingham – Soft tissue therapist (RFU)
Hanlie Fouche – Soft tissue therapist (WRU)
Strength & Conditioning
Paul Stridgeon – Head of Strength & Conditioning (WRU)
Jon Clarke – Strength & Conditioning Coach (RFU)
Huw Bennett – Strength & Conditioning Coach (WRU)
Brian Cunniffe – Sports Scientist (English Institute of Sport)
Rhodri Bown – Head of Analysis (WRU)
Vinny Hammond – Analyst (IRFU)
Marc Kinnaird – Analyst (WRU)
Gavin Vaughan – Analyst (SRU)
Andre Moore – Chef (WRU)
Luke Broadley – Press and media (WRU)
“It is a great honour and opportunity for them personally, but I also see it as an opportunity for Wales and our national squad.
“It provides those going with new experiences, new challenges and they will come back into the Wales set-up with even more knowledge and experience and that is a good thing for us.
“It also allows a number of our management to step-up internally into roles and allows us to bring in additional staff from across the WRU pathway to add to the environment and to add to their experience, which is beneficial all round.”
Now Pivac will begin the task of rebuilding his backroom staff ahead of tests against Canada and Argetina this summer.
He added: “We are looking forward to this summer, the opportunity it presents.
“We have always earmarked this summer as an important development opportunity for us.
“It is an opportunity to bring players into this environment, look at them closely and expose them to test match rugby.
“It is also an opportunity for current internationals to step-up into further leadership roles, so on both counts it is an important camp for us looking ahead to RWC2023.”