Graham Rowntree, the former British and Irish Lions coach who quit Harlequins in the summer, has revealed that becoming Georgia’s forwards coach for their World Cup campaign was an “opportunity I just couldn’t miss.”
Rowntree will reprise the role he held with both the Lions and England and has joined a coaching team headed by New Zealand’s Milton Haig after staying below the rugby radar since his exit from Harlequins following last season’s disappointing campaign that also led to the departures of John Kingston and Nick Easter, who is working with the Sharks in Durban.
Rowntree played loosehead prop for the British & Irish Lions, Leicester and England, earning 54 international caps and played in two World Cups. He was part of the England coaching set-up under Stuart Lancaster at the 2015 World Cup when the host country failed to get out of their Pool.
— Georgian Rugby Union (@GeorgianRugby) September 25, 2018
Georgia are in Pool D at next year’s World Cup in Japan alongside Australia, Wales, Fiji and Uruguay and Rowntree’s background knowledge of those opponents and his love of forward play will be a major asset to Georgia.
“I have not felt like this before about a role. Probably the most excited I have been for any job”, Rowntree said after being presented to the media.
“For an Englishman to be coaching the Georgian forward pack it’s… but I have been a big fan of Georgian forward play for a long time and to have the opportunity to be associated with such a forward pack and help to get the best out of that forward pack. It is such a big year coming up – it is an opportunity I just couldn’t miss.”
“The warmth that has been shown by Milton (Haig) and everyone else in the organisation has furthermore increased my excitement. I cannot wait to get stuck into the games in the Autumn.”
Head coach Haig added “The most impressive thing, certainly from my point of view, when I first met Graham was his enthusiasm to be able to be involved in the Georgian team. Right from the start and his very first words when I met him four weeks ago was his excitement and his enthusiasm to be involved with this Georgian team and that for me said everything about the guy, as a person first and obviously as a coach.”
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