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Sam Warburton named as part of Pivac's new Wales coaching staff

The 31-year-old will take up a role as technical advisor for defence and breakdown.

FORMER WALES AND Lions captain Sam Warburton has been named as part of Wayne Pivac’s new Wales coaching staff.

The 31-year-old was forced to retire from playing in 2018 but will make a swift return to Test rugby in a new coaching role under Pivac.

sam-warburton-celebrates-winning Warburton captained the Lions on two tours. Photosport / Andrew Cornaga/INPHO Photosport / Andrew Cornaga/INPHO / Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

Warburton has been officially confirmed as a technical advisor for defence and breakdown within Pivac’s staff, while the Welsh Rugby Union has also announced that Byron Hayward is the new defence coach.

Wales are facing into a new era under former Scarlets boss Pivac, who has taken over from fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland.

Gatland won three Grand Slams and reached two World Cup semi-finals during his 12-year stint in charge, leaving Pivac with a high standard to match.

Pivac had previously announced that ex-Wales out-half Stephen Jones, who was his assistant at Scarlets as they won their Guinness Pro14 title in 2017, would be coming on board as attack coach.

Jonathan Humphreys, a former Wales hooker, had also been confirmed as forwards coach to replace Robin McBryde – now in place at Leinster.

Ex-Wales fullback Hayward was defence coach at Scarlets during Pivac and Jones’ time with the region.

Former Wales out-half Neil Jenkins will continue in his longstanding role as kicking coach, ensuring that all five of Pivac’s assistants are ex-Wales internationals.

It is the surprise announcement of Warburton that is of most interest, however, with the former openside flanker having been forced into retirement so recently due to crippling injury problems.

Warburton captained the Lions in 2013 and 2017, while winning 74 caps for Wales, a record number of them as captain.

Renowned as one of the finest breakdown players in the game and a superb defender, there is little doubt that he has technical expertise in both areas although the role with Wales will be his first formal coaching position in professional rugby.

Warburton has been working as a pundit on TV since retiring, impressing viewers with his technical knowledge and clear communication style.

The former Cardiff Blues back row will continue to pursue interests outside of the professional game, working with Wales on a “campaign-by-campaign basis,” but his impact in this new role as a technical advisor will be fascinating to follow.

“Sam is one of the most experienced leaders in rugby with excellent knowledge and communication skills and having only recently retired he has a full grasp on the international game,” said Pivac of the appointment.

“We looked at the coaching structure and the roles of each coach and believed by adding a second defensive role into the team adds value, adds a point of difference and allows a specialist to work in the contact area and I believe Byron and Sam will compliment each other in the roles.”

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