The Ospreys today confirmed a new three-man coaching team that will work closely with the 'C' group of youngsters next season.
Current community development officer Ioan Cunningham and Video Analyst Damian Karauna will be joined by a new addition to the Ospreys family in the shape of former Newport RFC fly-half Dan Griffiths.
The trio will take responsibility of the 'C' group, a selection of carefully selected young players aged 16 to 18 who attend the Ospreys Llandarcy Academy of Sport HQ between 7 and 9am daily for specific rugby and fitness work ahead of their normal college day.
27-year old Cunningham has already proven an influential figure in terms of player development in the region, combining his existing community role with the post of forwards coach for the Ospreys U18 squad. Former New Zealand sevens international Karauna, 35, made 10 appearances for the Ospreys in the 2005/6 season, since when he has been a member of the management support team at the region while playing for Swansea in the Welsh Premiership. Having spent time last season working as a coach in the District set-up, this post represents his next step on the coach development pathway.
Griffiths is a newcomer to the Ospreys as he looks to take his first steps into the coaching world. Originally from Carmarthen, the 31-year old has spent the last seven years at Newport RFC, where he has made 187 appearances. His tally of 1,551 points is an all time club record, with Griffiths overtaking current Dragons Head Coach Paul Turner at the top of the points chart in February 2008. In addition to working with the 'C' Group, Griffiths' role will see him working closely with Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea Colleges as part of the new development programme announced by the Ospreys last week.
Elite Performance Director, Andrew Hore, welcomed the announcement of the new coaching team. He said:
"The confirmation of the three man coaching team to work with the 'C' group is an important step forward. We changed our squad structure last season to incorporate an 'A' group consisting of players preparing for matchday, a 'B' group made up of players outside of the matchday squad, young professionals and players returning from injury, and then underpinning that we have the 'C' group, a selection of elite young players who we bring into the Ospreys environment daily to prepare them for the next step in their careers.
"The role of this trio will be an important one, as they will be working with the 16-18 boys, giving them the knowledge and the tools they need to be a professional rugby player. They will have the full support of the management and coaching teams at the region, who will take a very keen interest in the work they are doing, how they progress as coaches and, of course, how the players under their wings develop over the course of the season.
"We have spoken at length over the last year or so about the need for us to develop from within, and once again, with these appointments we are backing up our words with actions. These three young men are just taking their first steps on the coach development pathway but they have shown the right characteristics and personality for this role. Now, Ospreys Rugby will give them all the support and assistance they need to make them better coaches, which in turn will lead to us creating better players. For us to deliver long term sustainable success, it is vital that we remain committed to developing young coaches and players."