Dan McFarland had his sights set on a coaching career long before he finally hung up his boots last season after a superb playing career which saw him perform in England, France and Ireland.
The 34-year-old worked on his coaching badges throughout a playing career which saw him move from Richmond to Stade Francais before serving six years in the Connacht front row.
He retired from professional rugby at the end of last season before taking up a coaching role with Monivea, who are now poised to capture the Connacht Junior League after a great season.
McFarland is also the Connacht video analyst and last Friday he made his international debut as a coach, acting as assistant to his long-time Connacht colleague and friend Eric Elwood as the Ireland Under-20 side made a winning start to the Six Nations in Wales.
So what was his debut as an international coach like?
“Fantastic. It was a dream start in terms of the result. In terms of applying ourselves we’ve a lot to work on and that’s what we’re in the process of doing at the moment.
“I’m enjoying it. There’s a lot more work and it’s more stressful which is part and parcel of the job but I’m definitely enjoying it. You’re continually put under pressure because you’re taking responsibility for a lot more aspects of the game.
“Having said that, it’s a fantastic opportunity to implement yourself more on parts of the game you wouldn’t know as much about, so from that point of view it’s a learning curve.
“I also love the fact that I can eat and drink what I want,” laughs McFarland.
Like all players who move to coaching, getting used to new match-day duties can take a bit of time.
“Generally my primary duty is to make sure everything is ready. It’s a whole new way of looking at a match-day because it covers everything from the mental and physical preparation of the players to everything outside of the team as well. Just overseeing that takes up the whole day. It’s exhausting but thoroughly enjoyable,” he said.
McFarland is particularly looking forward to the atmosphere at Dubarry Park tonight when the French come to Athlone.
“I was at all of the Under-21 internationals played at Dubarry Park last year. It’s a great ground and if it’s a good night the crowd will enjoy a great taste of international rugby,” added the former prop.