CONNACHT HAVE CONFIRMED that former Edinburgh and Queensland Reds defence coach Peter Wilkins will be part of Kieran Keane’s backroom staff for next season.
Englishman Wilkins has learnt his trade in both hemispheres, beginning his coaching career with the RFU before making the move Down Under to work as a regional rugby manager and then defence coach with the Reds.
Wilkins returned to the UK two years ago and has spent the past two seasons working as defence coach with Edinburgh.
Ninth-placed Edinburgh’s defence has this season ranked seventh out of the Guinness Pro12′s 12 teams — conceding 491 points.
Last season Edinburgh also finished in ninth position, but they conceded just 366 points, making their defence the third tightest in the Pro12.
Wilkins will take Connacht’s defensive reins next season under the guidance of Kiwi head coach Keane, and alongside retained forwards coach Jimmy Duffy and former academy boss Nigel Carolan, whose role has yet to be specified.
“I’m really pleased to be joining Connacht Rugby and excited about the opportunity to become a part of an organisation I have enormous respect for,” Wilkins said in a statement.
“I have visited the Sportsground as an opposition coach and have always been struck, not just by the skill-set and commitment of the Connacht players on the field, but also by the passion and rugby values of the Connacht supporters and wider community.
“I’m well aware of Kieran’s qualities from my time in the southern hemisphere, and am really looking forward to working closely with him, as well as Jimmy, Nigel and the other members of the organisation.”
Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane feels the province have got the right man for the job.
“We’re delighted to be welcoming Peter to Connacht Rugby ahead of the new season.
“In identifying the right candidate for this role, we were taken by the consistent, positive feedback on the work that Peter has done in his previous roles.
“We are excited about what he will be able to bring to a new coaching team and look forward to his arrival at the start of pre-season.”
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