The Irish Rugby Football Union announced on Thursday the formation of the PricewaterhouseCoopers ‘High Performance Select Group’ (HPSG) which introduces the next level of players earmarked to go forward to full international representation for Ireland.
The Select Group is part of the newly formed IRFU PwC High Performance Unit, whose role will be to prepare these selected players for involvement with the national squad over the next two years.
The goal of the PwC High performance Select Group (HPSG) will be to introduce the provincial players to the structures and levels of performance of the Ireland national team with a view to transitioning them into the squad for international selection as and when they are needed.
The PwC High Performance Select Group has been selected by Ireland national coach Eddie O’Sullivan following consultation with each of the provincial coaches.
The PricewaterhouseCoopers High Performance Select Group is:
Leinster: Luke Fitzgerald, Jamie Heaslip, Trevor Hogan, Robert Kearney, Kieran Lewis, Ronnie McCormack
Connacht: Daniel Riordan
Munster: Barry Murphy
Ulster: Tommy Bowe, Stephen Ferris, Roger Wilson, Bryan Young
Players will move in and out of the High Performance Select Group depending on performance, injury and succession into the national team.
Players will spend the majority of their time working in the provincial structures with specific High Performance Unit consultation during their time as part of the Select Group.
This will include players being individually ‘player-cammed’ and analysed by the High Performance Unit and national management during Magners League and Heineken Cup/European Challenge Cup games.
Following this, tailored coaching will be applied to each player in consultation with the provincial coaching structures and the national team coaching staff.
The members of the Select Group will also be invited to participate in national squad sessions. The function of this involvement is to acclimatise and prepare players to step into the national team structures both on and off the field.
This will include being part of squad sessions during the Guinness Autumn Internationals, RBS 6 Nations Championship, summer tour (prior to departure) and summer fitness camp.
Players will take a full part in the training during these camps and mirror the attendance of the non matchday 22, allowing them to be released back to each province and available for selection in the Magners League.
IRFU Director of Rugby Eddie Wigglesworth said: “Any team in the world must plan for new players of international caliber to replace current players and as part of the overall High Performance Strategy of the Union, this select group announced today represents the next level of international players.
“Although the majority of these players have already been inducted into the national squad and some having received full international honours, their continued development is essential whether they are named in the current national squad or not.”
Irish coach and High Performance Director Eddie O’Sullivan said: “The current success of the Ireland team reflects the healthy state of Irish rugby and the structures that are in place. International player succession is of vital importance to the Ireland team in the immediate and long term future.”
Donal O’Connor, Senior Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, added: “Whether in rugby or in business having the right team with the right succession plan is vital for future success. The PwC High Performance Select Group is about ensuring just that.
“By selecting the best players with the right talent and maximising their potential through top class coaching and support, this new initiative supports their challenge to become world class performers and be tomorrow’s leaders in their field.
“The HPU struck a great resonance with us here in PwC as the key factor to our success is also the quality of our people. We aim to recruit the best people and develop their potential through great training and great experience to become world class professional advisors,” he commented.
“The overlap between what both ourselves and the IRFU try to do is so strong that we were delighted to be associated with this initiative. We look forward to continuing to work with the IRFU on this exciting development.”