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Home / Cardiff and it's Bay / Home and School / Marshall urges Ulster top brass to let locals coach

Marshall urges Ulster top brass to let locals coach

David Kelly

Published 17/09/2014 | 02:30

Luke Marshall is happy with the current coaching set-up at Ulster. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Luke Marshall is happy with the current coaching set-up at Ulster. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Regardless of whether Ulster are gently persuaded to select an all-local coaching set-up imposed from IRFU HQ, centre Luke Marshall has offered his full backing for the current coaching regime to remain in place once Ireland assistant Les Kiss returns from his brief, emergency role in charge.


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Ulster are preparing to unveil their new coaching line-up next month, presumably before the resumption of European competition and, with Neil Doak wildly tipped to lead the locally accented crew, Marshall is confident that shopping local is the way forward after a summer of turmoil in the province.

“The set-up we have at the minute is very good,” says the 23-year-old. “That’s what we’ve been saying all along. From the outside, it probably looks like we were in a bit of bother losing Mark Anscombe and David Humphreys and it might have looked like a bit of a crisis.

“But from a player’s point of view, with the way training has been going, the set-up is as good at Ulster in all the time that I’ve been here. So I’d be looking for things to continue the way that they’ve been going with the coaches who are there at the minute.

“Having home-grown coaches, it’s the way to go in the future. If you have quality coaches from Ireland, it’s way better. The coaches that are here now have coached a lot of the boys since they were very young.


“They know us inside out. They know the qualities and what Ulster stands for, they know the history and they bring that passion to the job. And that transcends into the players and on to the pitch.”

And Marshall believes that the players have assumed as much responsibility on the field as the coaches in their valiant attempts to obviate against any meltdown from the highly unsatisfactory turn of events this summer which, in another organisation, may have precipitated a catastrophe.

“The senior players have really taken it on this year compared to previous years, it’s really more player-driven with the likes of Rory Best, Tommy Bowe and Jared Payne taking charge on the field,” explains the Ballymoney boy, who has won six caps for his country.

“The coaches can only do so much. Once we get into the game, we’re on our own. The coaches can’t score any tries for us. They set up the template for us and we have to play within that.

“But when things go wrong during the game, it’s up to the players to pick up the pieces and change the game-plan if we need to. We have the responsibility to do that and we can’t make excuses for what’s happening off the pitch.

“In any event, the coaching set-up is still pretty much the same, they’ve been there for the last few years. So from that point of view, it hasn’t changed too much.

“There was a bit of instability during the summer of course. But Les Kiss has come in and done a really good job with us. We had a very good pre-season and so far, we haven’t gone too badly.”

That thesis will be tested after the South African Rugby Union yesterday confirmed Ulster’s worst suspicions, when star scrum-half Ruan Pienaar was ruled out for anything between four to six weeks with a knee injury.

However, just as Marshall stresses that his side were by no means rudderless despite their summer upheaval, he believes that his side can also cope against the European heavyweights of Leicester and Toulon next month without their arch assassin.

“You can’t be fully dependent on one player,” Marshall insists. “If we were to throw our toys out of the pram just because we’ve lost Ruan Pienaar, then that would be a bit silly.

“Obviously he’s a quality player, one of the best nines in the world. But it’s a great opportunity for Paul Marshall and Michael Heaney to put their hands up and show that they can take the jersey.

“Paul has been doing very well in Ruan’s absence and I’m sure he’s chomping at the bit to show that he can consolidate his place ahead of the European campaign.

“It’s nasty to lose Ruan but it’s a good opportunity for others to take their chance.”

Ulster could welcome back Irish international duo Tommy Bowe and Paddy Jackson away to Cardiff this Friday but Kiss and his coaching cadre may opt against risking the pair on the Welsh region’s 4G pitch.

Bowe underwent an operation in the off-season to right a niggling groin injury while Jackson has struggled with a back problem, forcing both players to miss out on Ireland’s tour to Argentina in June.

Meanwhile, Rory Scholes will have surgery today to stabilise a fracture in his foot while on club duty.

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