Up and coming hookers in the Ospreys age-grade system are benefiting from the experience of Richard Hibbard, who is taking a series of hooking master classes with the Eyasses.
The Welsh international has been spending time working with the youngsters in training at the region’s Llandarcy Academy of Sport HQ, and he is due to assess their game performance and provide one to one feedback over the coming months.
Unlike some of his team-mates who have been getting involved over the last couple of seasons as a first step on the coaching ladder, Hibbard is adamant that he has no long term interest in a coaching career, insisting that his interest is simply in giving something back to his local community.
“I enjoy giving something back to the younger guys” he said.
“I can only say I have no long-term aspirations to be a coach. The pressure that comes with it, I wouldn’t want that. I could do player-coach at Taibach until I’m about 50, but regional or Premiership or whatever? I don’t think it’s for me.
“Working with kids is a bit different, working in the community, helping to make them better and giving something back is a bit different but I can’t see me pursuing a coaching career. I’m proud of my roots, of where I’m from, and of what I’ve achieved so far, and if I can help someone do the same then it will give me great personal satisfaction.”
Hibbard says that he will be using his own experience when he converted to hooker at a late stage in his development to guide the youngsters and hopefully improve their ability:
“I remember how hard it was for me when I first moved to hooker. There were so many different opinions, so much pressure, how they ever expected me to throw and hit straight I don’t know. It’s a skill that you develop and it takes years. Like any skill you need to practice for hours and hours.
“At this stage I’m taking them through the technique of throwing, picking up on any errors and the potential risks in their technique. Just helping them along really, with their routine. You get so many different opinions when you are younger and when I first threw I had about seven different throws before I ended up with this one.
“It’s just about helping them along, helping them to find their own rhythm. I’m working on the training ground with them now, and I’ll be watching them in games. It’s a different experience when you are throwing under pressure, with a crowd watching in bad weather than it is in the barn, in the dry, in training.
“In a way it helps me as well, as it makes you focus on your own throwing routine more and you can pinpoint areas for improvement.
“When I retire – not yet – it will be good to be able to look at the hookers coming through and say that that I had an influence on their development! I do enjoy it.”