'It wouldn't surprise me if Conor O'Shea goes back there...' The Rugby Pod speculates on the identity of the new Harlequins boss
Ex-England international Andy Goode has mischievously suggested that former Ireland full-back Conor O’Shea has been lined up for a return to Harlequins, the club he guided to their one and only Premiership title in 2012 as director of rugby.
Harlequins general manager Billy Millward said last week that the club’s lengthy recruitment to find a replacement for the ousted Paul Gustard as head of rugby is nearing completion.
“We have taken our time and we’re at the pointy end now,” he said. “Definitely, within a couple of weeks, we are hoping we will have the announcement but we are just at the back-end of it now.
“We’re expecting a new body in the building from outside the building… we’re at the pointy end where (we are down to) one or two. We are just at that pointy end. We are nearly there.”
That was Thursday of last week and two days later Goode bumped into Millard when he was working as a TV pundit at the Leicester vs Harlequins game at Welford Road. The Australian reminded Goode that they had previously met many years ago in Sydney and there was some catch-up chit-chat between the pair.
— The Rugby Pod (@TheRugbyPod) May 19, 2021
Millard, though, wouldn’t confirm the identity to Goode of Harlequins’ new rugby boss, leaving the pundit in speculative form when co-hosting this week’s The Rugby Pod with Jim Hamilton. It’s now 17 weeks since Gustard left The Stoop and Goode took a tongue-in-cheek punt that O’Shea, who is currently working at the RFU, could stroll across the road to take charge of Harlequins. Here is how the conversation unfolded:
JIM HAMILTON: I can believe Quins are going to be top four.
ANDY GOODE: Well they are. Do you know what, I met Billy Millard after the game on Saturday. What a lovely bloke, first and foremost. It’s such a small rugby world. He was, ‘Andy, do you remember when we met in Australia?’ He was coaching Sydney University years ago and I went to watch a game out there when I was on tour with England and he was like, ‘We had a chat’. I had no recollection, I was probably on the p*** so I probably didn’t even have a recollection of being at the game. Yeah, Billy Millard, lovely bloke. And Quins, they have made some moves. They have got their coach lined up. That will be announced in the next couple of weeks.
AG: I don’t know.
JH: If you were to say who do you think it might be? Give me a hint and I’ll say it.
AG: I genuinely don’t know. I have been racking my brains. I was like, ‘Go on Billy, let me know’. He’s like, ‘Nah mate, it’s one of two’. I’m like, ‘You know who it is?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah’.
JH: I thought they would keep Nick Evans.
AG: Billy Millard is overseeing rugby operations at the minute and he is just letting the coaches do what they do. A director of rugby/rugby operations manager, you have got so much stuff away from the field to do which Nick Evans ain’t going to want to do. Nick Evans is an Adam Jones and Jerry Flannery. Those boys are onfield coaches, proper decent coaches that have got so much experience around the game, winning, losing, different areas of expertise. Contracts and recruitment and all that stuff is a whole different job.
JH: Who do you reckon, though? C’mon.
AG: I genuinely don’t know. Conor O’Shea is coming back. No. It wouldn’t surprise me if Conor O’Shea goes back there but I don’t think it is him.
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— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) May 16, 2021
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