Although rugby activity has shut down, Hoppers are still making plans for next season and we managed to catch up with our new Backs & Defence Coach, Byron McGuigan. Byron has starred for Sale Sharks and Scotland over the past couple of seasons, comes highly recommended and has an impressive rugby pedigree.
Having been in talks with Byron over the past few weeks, Head of Rugby Operations, Gareth Dyer is excited to confirm his impending arrival at Lightfoot Green and had this to say on the appointment; I am delighted to welcome Byron to the club. To have someone of his standing in the professional game join us is a real coup for the club. His experience of top-level preparation will be hugely beneficial to the squad and this appointment has already created a buzz of excitement amongst the players and wider club. He will be overseeing the skills, backs and defence roles which are areas we clearly need to improve on. I am sure there are players out there who will be keen to work with Byron. As we’ve seen from experience, appointing someone who is playing professionally keeps our preparation at the cutting edge of the game and improves players understanding of what it takes to be successful. We cannot wait to make Byron a part of the Hoppers family.
Given the Coronavirus Crisis, Byron is (like many of us) working and training from home, so our Off-Field Coordinator, Craig Steel interviewed him on the phone earlier this week.
Steely: How are you occupying your time since rugby shut down?
Byron: I’m enjoying some quality time with my family and letting my body rest and recover from a busy period of rugby, which included the 6Nations. Rugby is never far from my mind though and I cannot wait to get started at Hoppers.
Steely: On that note, why Hoppers?
Byron: It just feels a good fit. Arnie is a good bloke and we see the game the same way. I want to develop as a coach and at the same time bring some enjoyment to the lads at Hoppers and get them smiling again!
Steely: What will you bring to Hoppers next season?
Byron: Arnie has asked me to become the defence coach in addition to coaching our backs, so I will be busy from the start! Our aim must be to have the best defence in the league and I plan to introduce a simple but effective defensive pattern that will make us hard to score against. Our players will have to be fit, so I will be working closely with the conditioning team on that. I will bring a game focus and intensity to training and work out how we can convert more opportunities to score. Players should enjoy defence and scoring in equal measure. They will be expected to work hard, have respect for one another and the coaching/off field team too, in addition to being competitive in everything we ask and expect of them.
Steely: What can the Hoppers faithful expect to see from the team next season in terms of attack and defence?
Byron: Simple! In defence; line speed, dominant collisions, energy, work rate and desire. In attack; clinical and precise in the opposition’s 22, pride in finishing opportunities, a fitter team with better skills and confidence.
In my career I have played my best rugby when I’ve been at my fittest. This WILL be the same for our lads.
Steely: What do you expect your biggest challenge to be?
Byron: Limited time to instil new processes, patterns and principles. As we move through pre-season, we will get better and better. As we spend more time together, I will improve the squad further.
Steely: What will you demand from the players?
Byron: Respect, hard work, honesty and a warrior mentality.
Steely: Fantastic, many thanks for your time Byron.
Speaking about the imminent arrival of Byron, Head Coach Paul Arnold said: “I cannot wait to start working with Byron, his enthusiasm for his new role is infectious and he will give everybody a real lift. I have no doubt that his appointment is great for the club and that we will see a real improvement from our talented squad of players. Admittedly they are lacking a bit of confidence and self-belief after a challenging season, however I’m confident that Byron’s arrival will push us towards better things once the rugby gets started again. We have already had players approach us since word got out that Byron was coming here. I would ask any further potential players who may want to join our squad and be part of this wonderful club to email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond accordingly.”
Image Credit: Byron McGuigan Twitter