John Mulvihill is aiming to develop not just the next generation of Wales internationals but coaches as well.
The new Cardiff Blues was officially presented to the press yesterday and outlined his plans for a new era at the Arms Park.
Much has already been made of the abundance of young talent coming through the ranks at Wales’ Capital Region, with the likes of Seb Davies, Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans and Owen Lane enjoying hugely impressive campaigns.
But Mulvihill has also outlined his role in developing Welsh coaches for the future and taken that stance when putting together his back-room staff.
Assistant coaches Jason Strange, Tom Smith and Duane Goodfield are all Welsh, while defence coach Richard Hodges has also been developed through the Welsh system.
And below the first team there is also the likes of former Arms Park favourites Richie Rees and Thomas Rhys Thomas learning their trade.
Mulvihill said: “I had the opportunity, from speaking to Martyn Phillips and the guys here, to bring in anyone I wanted, but I was also thinking about not only how we develop the players but also the coaches here as well.
“Part of my role is also to help develop coaches. So I asked the WRU to identify a number of coaches with the ability to consider.
“Jason Strange is not a young young coach, he has been around the Under-20s for four years and needed that next opportunity.
“He is excited about stepping up and I have had meetings with him this week about the little changes we will make in our game to make us better.
“Tom Smith is a very bright coach. After his injury he has been coaching not only older guys but through the development system as well and the feedback I had on Duane Goodfield was that he’s a really good young coach.
“The previous regime thought really highly of him so it’s important we continue to bring him through, while Richard Hodges has brought some real strides in with the defence.
“It’s about supporting and challenging the young coaches to make them better.”
That is a philosophy echoed in terms of players and Mulvihill, who brought through the likes of Matt Giteau and David Pocock in Australia, is relishing.
It has been well-documented that 14 of the match-day squad, who lifted the European Challenge Cup in May, were academy graduates.
And while young, home grown talent must also be supplemented by experience and some overseas quality, he hopes to develop players through the age-grade system, into first team jerseys and then the Test arena.
He added: “There is a really good crop of young players here. Ultimately I want as many of our players as possible to be in the red jersey.
“In years gone by that’s been the case but at the start of this year, we had four, where the Scarlets had 10. Making Cardiff better ultimately has to help Welsh rugby.
“I met with Warren Gatland a few weeks ago and we talked about Jarrod Evans who had a really good six months. He would like to see him have a good year. For me, the development of guys like Jarrod is going to be very important.
“For those young players (on the Wales summer tour) they just need the opportunity.
“They have gone through a lot of PRO14 rugby and have been identified for that next level, which is good to see and good for us.
“My hope for when they come back is they don’t sit on their laurels but they extend where they in the areas they need. That brings the whole collective level up.”
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