IRELAND FORWARDS COACH John Plumtree believes the side he helped to win a Six Nations trophy will only go from strength to strength after he leaves.
Plumtree announced on Sunday that he would be leaving the Irish set-up after the summer tour to Argentina. While family reasons were cited as the deciding factor in his impending departure, the New Zealander will walk straight into a job when he arrives home.
Plumtree and Wellington Lions coach Chris Boyd are to take over from Chris Hammett at The Hurricanes. The Super Rugby side has made the playoffs five times since the formation of the league but struggled of late, despite the presence of All Blacks Cory Jane, Conrad Smith and Julian Savea. Hammett will take over at Cardiff Blues at the start of the next Pro12 season.
Speaking before Ireland flew out to Argentina, Plumtree commented, “Obviously, it has been a tough decision for myself and my family to have to make. I’ve really enjoyed working with this Irish team and management. Apart from it being a pretty successful time, I’ve had heaps of fun with them.
“The opportunity to go back to New Zealand and be closer to my family [his parents live close to Wellington] is really important to me at this stage of my life. We haven’t been back there for eight years; my littlest fella hasn’t seen my Dad. There were a lot of things I had to weigh up.”
Plumtree feels his has let head coach Joe Schmidt down somewhat by leaving his role after only nine months at the helm. “I just hope everybody understands,” he added, “and I’ll be an Irish supporter for life now.”
The former Taranaki player commented, “I think the [Irish] pack is outstanding and it has some great leaders in it. There are probably four or five individuals in that pack that would make most international teams. Joe and the rest of the coaching team have already committed to developing the rest of them. I think there are good times ahead for this Irish team and the pack is a formidable one.”