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Doak On Board As Ulster Skills Coach

Doak On Board As Ulster Skills Coach

The Ulster Rugby management team has been bolstered with the news that former Ulster and Ireland ‘A’ scrum half Neil Doak has been appointed as the province’s skills coach.

Neil Doak boasts a wealth of sporting talent having represented Ireland at cricket as well as playing professional rugby for Ulster and his country – an Ireland senior cap eluded him but he was a member of Ireland’s 2003 Rugby World Cup squad.

Doak, who turns 36 on Saturday, will be a welcome addition to the Ulster management team. His role will focus on working closely with the half-backs and their kicking and he will also look after the players’ core skills.

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Since retiring from professional rugby, the ambitious former Wallace High pupil has coached a number of sides including the Ulster Under-19s and he has been assistant coach to the Ulster Under-20 and ‘A’ squads.

It is his former role as Ulster’s Elite Player Development Officer that has seen him nurture talent such as current young stars Niall O’Connor and Mark McCrea.

Ulster coach Matt Williams said of the appointment: “I coached Neil in the Ireland ‘A’ squad for two years and I recognised back then that he was interested in technical excellence.

“We had a very positive relationship when I coached him. He is not a yes man. He speaks his mind and does not suffer fools gladly. We need that attitude in our team.”

The Australian continued: “Since then he has done outstanding work with Ulster underage teams. However, it is his work with our kickers, such as Niall O’Connor and Paddy Wallace, that has brought his coaching skills to my attention.

“It is a real asset for the team to have a full-time skills coach. It is also an investment in Ulster Rugby’s future to bring into the professional ranks an excellent young coach such as Neil. I am looking forward to working with him again.”

Doak himself admitted: “I am over the moon, it has all happened quite quickly and when Matt spoke to me about joining up with the squad full-time I jumped at the chance.

“The turmoil of last season will be forgotten this year – Matt has already worked with the squad for a few months and with new players coming in and a fresh approach I have no doubt that the players will gel well together.

“On paper we have a good squad so we just need to get out there and play some rugby and play for each other,” he added.