Rebel in exile

Coughlan keen on coaching but playing days far from over at 36

The former Munster back-row forward is currently in his third season with Top 14 side Pau.

James Coughlan James Coughlan passes to Conor Murray during Munster's 2013-14 Pro12 play-off defeat to Glasgow Warriors. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

JAMES COUGHLAN HAS expressed his desire to move into coaching at the end of his playing career, but the former Munster back-row forward doesn’t seem likely to hang up his boots just yet.

Coughlan, who’s in his third season with French Top 14 outfit Pau, turned 36 last month. Nevertheless, the Corkman remains a key player for Simon Mannix’s side, who currently sit in 11th place in France’s top flight.

In an extensive interview with current Munster hooker Duncan Casey on The Crooked Feed podcast, Coughlan explained how he’s been enjoying life in France since leaving Munster in 2014.

When asked about how long he expects to continue playing for, the former Dolphin player didn’t sound like a man who’s approaching the end.

Coughlan said: “From my own point of view, when you’re doing the gym, you’re doing the fitness, you’re doing all the work outside of it, I suppose if you refer to the American football side of things, as long as you’re meeting all your stats and meeting all your requirements, they don’t care how old you are — whether you’re 21 or 41.

If you’re doing your job then why should it matter? Obviously recovery for me now is a big thing; trying to keep the body as able as I can. I don’t feel any different now than I did when I was 24.

“I suppose you could ask Donncha O’Callaghan and he’d probably tell you the same. The only difference is that I have more grey hairs and more fellas slagging me about them. Outside of that I really don’t feel any different.

“As long as I’m performing I’ll keep going. If I’m not performing I’ll have to have a look at myself more than anything else, because when it comes down to it really it’s about yourself and being happy enough with your own performance. If you’re happy with your own performance and somebody else is happy with it, that’s always a positive.”

James Coughlan Coughlan made the first of 139 Munster appearances in September 2006. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Coughlan was in his late 20s by the time he made the breakthrough to become a regular starter for Munster, but he quickly established himself as one of the province’s most consistent performers, winning their Player of the Year award at the end of the 2010-11 season.

He added: “I was lucky — and unlucky, I suppose — in that I started professional rugby when I was 24 or 25. If you start at 18 or 19, you’re going for those 10 or 12 years and that might be the reason why fellas hang it up at around 32, 33, that kind of way. Everyone is different. You just have to listen to your own body and see where you go from there.”

Coughlan doesn’t see a return to Ireland in his immediate future, but he’s keen to pursue a career in coaching when his playing days do eventually wind down.

“We’ll get over this year and see what’s happening next year. I’ll have a chat with Simon and make a decision, whatever that decision is. But I don’t see myself coming home for a while anyway. I’d hope to go into coaching when I do finish up — at 44,” he laughed.

“I’d love to get involved in the academy and do work like that, and try and bring on a few youngfellas; try and have an impact on a young player’s career. That’s a massive challenge for me going forward. That’s one of the reasons why I did make an effort to learn French, so I was able to talk to fellas and try and help them out as much as I can, the same way we were helped out when we were younger.”

Click here to listen to the interview in full.

‘I’m properly p*ssed off about that. I don’t see any benefit in charging down someone’s standing leg.’

After 291 games, Muldoon is ‘honoured’ to play on for Connacht under new regime

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.