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Irishman Toolan takes over as head coach of the Melbourne Rising

The Melbourne Rebels performance analyst was formerly part of Ireland’s backroom staff.

IRISHMAN EOIN TOOLAN has been appointed head coach of the Melbourne Rising ahead of the upcoming National Rugby Championship [NRC] in Australia.

Toolan, formerly part of Ireland’s backroom staff, is the head performance analyst of Super Rugby’s Melbourne Rebels and has previously been an assistant coach for the Rising, essentially a feeder team to the Rebels.

A Greystones clubman during his playing days, Toolan began working as an analyst for the IRFU in 2007 and became an assistant to Ireland’s head analyst, Mervyn Murphy, a year later.

Vincent Hammond, Eoin Toolan and Mervyn Murphy Toolan [centre] with Ireland analysts Vinny Hammond and Mervyn Murphy. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

He was part of the backroom staff when Declan Kidney guided Ireland to the 2009 Grand Slam and Toolan’s time with the national team extended into the early stages of Joe Schmidt’s tenure.

However, former Munster boss Tony McGahan convinced Toolan to make the move to Melbourne in late 2013 and Toolan set about building the Rebels’ analysis department from the bottom up.

Toolan has also been gaining coaching experience throughout his time with the Rebels, working with the franchise’s U20 team and in the NRC with the Rising.

The 2018 Super Rugby season also saw Toolan’s role with the Rebels expanding to take on responsibility for their kicking strategy and exits.

With a new head coach in Dave Wessels, the Rebels enjoyed their best-ever Super Rugby season this year as they finished ninth in the overall standings and narrowly missed out on reaching the play-offs for the first time.

Toolan’s coaching progression will now continue as he takes over as head coach of the Rising, who are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2017 campaign in which they won just one of their eight games.

Toolan – who spent time in the Ireland camp during their week in Melbourne in June – is hoping that the fact that the Rising have several Rebels players in their squad will be to their benefit.

“I think that’s going to be one of our advantages – there’s a bit of continuity,” said Toolan.

“Quite a few of our players involved in Super Rugby in 2018 will be available for NRC, so it’s about building those combinations as well as developing some of our younger guys.

“I think it [NRC] has become a really strong competition over the last four years. If you look at that Wallabies 23 that played that last Test in June, twelve of them played NRC last year. It’s becoming a real stronghold of Australian rugby and it’s going to be great testing ourselves against some of the best teams in the country.”

Rising’s NRC campaign gets underway on 1 September with a trip to Nausori in Fiji to face the Fijian Drua, who reached last year’s semi-finals.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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