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Turnbull's Premiership ambitions

First Team News | 13th July 2020

Josh Turnbull has outlined his coaching ambitions as he prepares to take on a coaching role with Indigo Group Premiership club, Carmarthen Quins.

The utility forward, who has 10 international caps to his name, has taken the next step in his coaching career, having coached Newcastle Emlyn and regional age grade sides in recent seasons.

Speaking on the Welsh Premiership Podcast, Turnbull insisted that his focus remains on his playing career with Cardiff Blues, but believes his playing experiences can benefit his skillset as a coach.

“I’ve been coaching for about eight or nine years. I started when I was with the Scarlets with their regional under-18 team. I must’ve been 22 or 23 when I started coaching,” said the 32 year old.

“Rob Appleyard was the academy skills coach at the time and he asked if I wanted to be involved. I’ve always been eager to get involved in coaching and that’s where it started for me.

“I coached there for about four years and we had a couple of successful teams during that time, winning the under-18 Championship.

“When I moved to Cardiff, I did the same role there with the Blues under-18 and did another three or four years of that.

“I just tried different things - whether it was coaching defence or coaching line-outs, being a forwards coach or being a head coach. So I got a little bit of a feel for that and I really enjoyed it.

“In the last two years, just for a little bit of a different experience, I went to coach Newcastle Emlyn in the Championship and Division 1, and I really enjoyed that. It was a hell of a learning curve for me, as a coach.

“You don’t know how many numbers will turn up to training. Luckily there is a good group of boys down there, so you’ll always get between 15 and 25 boys which means you can always do something.

“I think there’s only been one time where I turned up to around five or six boys. It was hammering down, it was freezing cold and you could understand, in the middle of winter, why nobody wanted to be there.

“A couple of years ago, Steff, the team manager at the Quins, got in touch and asked me if I’d be interested to go there. I’d just said ‘yes’ to Newcastle Emlyn, so I told them I’d give that a crack for the experience, but if anything did crop up in the future to keep me in mind. 

“With Emyr Phillips finishing up with the Quins, Steff got in touch again and to be fair it all happened pretty quickly, and I’m looking forward to getting involved with the Quins next season when we start.

“I’ll be in charge of the line-out and contact area, and assisting Gethin Robinson, who is the scrum and defensive coach, and also anything else I can help with.

“I’ve got a lot of my own ideas, but also a lot of things that we do in the pro game that can translate to that semi-pro game. It’s not too far away, but it’s a cut down version of what we do at the professional level.

“I’ll be trying to give them as much help as I can and obviously it’s also a stepping stone and learning curve for me, so I’m looking forward to it.

“There’s big expectations because of how well they went this year and they gave Cardiff a really good game at home and turned them over with 14 men.

“They were sat in the top five of the table for most of the year and ended up sitting at second when the season got pulled.

“There’s some big games in there and they haven’t beaten the Drovers [Llandovery] for a while, so that will be a target against a team that I played for.

“Any derby is key, but it will also be about picking up points against teams from the other regions especially those at the top of the table.

“The balance between playing and coaching worked quite well when I’ve been with Newcastle Emlyn, because I’d be coaching on a Tuesday and Thursday night.

“It will be a similar situation with the Quins. I’ll be there as much as I can on the Tuesday and Thursdays, but if there’s a clash with Cardiff Blues on a Saturday, then I won’t be able to make it.

“So usually I’ll be there twice a week, regardless, and training is close to where I live so hopefully it will work out well.

“Where I want to end up is coaching regional rugby eventually - whether that’s set piece, forwards or defence. I’m still open to the direction I’d take.

“I’ve still got three years left on my Blues contract, and my focus will be on playing the best that I can every week and be the best rugby players on that field.

“But I have to think about life after rugby, and coaching is something that really interests me and I want to get involved with it.”

Turnbull was also quizzed on his playing career - from earning his stripes in the Welsh Premiership to the pride of representing his country on the international stage.

However, when asked about the highlight of his time at the Welsh capital, the utility forward had no hesitation.

Turnbull added: “The semi final against Pau at the Arms Park was a game I probably enjoyed more than the final against Gloucester, where we won the Challenge Cup.

“Pau were such a force at the time, and were flying in the Top 14. They had some massive players in their squad, with people like Conrad Smith and Steffon Armitage playing for them.

“They had a real strong squad and to turn them over at the Arms Park in front of a full house is something I’ll never forget, and the same goes for the celebrations afterwards.”