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Former Connacht star leaves Harlequins to become player coach of Wicklow RFC

He’ll be joined by a fellow Kiwi as his backs coach, as Wicklow recruit big names following promotion to Leinster Division 1A.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT’S FORMER KIWI star George Naoupu has been appointed head coach of Wicklow RFC, the club has confirmed.

Naopu will also play for the the Ashtown Lane outfit, who secured promotion to Division 1A of the Leinster League last season.

They will be coached and led on the field by the former Pro12 winner who enjoyed two spells at Connacht on either side of a season in Japan, the latter of which spanned five years.

Naopu made 117 appearances for the westerners, scoring nine tries and lifting the Pro12 trophy during his final season in green before joining Harlequins in the English Premiership.

During his early playing career he was capped by New Zealand at Schools, U19s and Sevens level, and appeared 11 times for the Highlanders during the 2008/09 Super Rugby season. His wife, Sene Naoupu, is an Irish international, and has been named in Tom Tierney’s squad for the upcoming Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Joining George Naopu as backs coach at Wicklow will be his fellow Kiwi Billy Ngawini, who was head coach of Blackrock RFC last season.

Wicklow RFC’s club president Bert Nicholson was thrilled to announce his new coaching team, which also includes strength and conditioning coach Gary Jameson.

“We gave a commitment to our players at the end of last season that we would do our utmost to ensure a quality coaching set up for next season in Division 1A,” Nicholson said.

“This is a special group of players who have won a Provincial Towns Cup and Leinster League Division 1B in the last two seasons and they deserve the best. It is a testament to all the work that has been done in the club over the last ten years and more, that we can attract ambitious player coaches of this calibre.

“We have a lot to look forward to in the coming season with Saturday rugby and the exciting challenge of playing in Division 1A, the top division in Leinster Junior Rugby.”

A previous version of this article did not mention that Naopu would also be playing for Wicklow RFC next season, and has since been amended.

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