Colin McEntee has been unveiled as the new IRFU High Performance Manager. The role is an integral part of the IRFU’s high performance player pathway strategy to provide a continuous supply of indigenous players to the professional and representative teams in Ireland.
Colin McEntee was a back row forward of note and was educated in CBS Naas, where he also represented his local club Naas RFC before moving on to play for both Greystones and Lansdowne in the All-Ireland League.
The Kildare native’s playing career included representing both Leinster and Ireland at underage levels right through to senior level where he played professionally for Leinster and Ireland ‘A’.
But it is outside his playing career where McEntee has had significant influence on player development in Leinster and Irish rugby.
He joined the IRFU in 1998 as a Development Officer working in the club and community game before being appointed as an Elite Player Development Officer in 2002.
He then took on the role of Leinster Academy Manager in September 2004 where he worked directly on the establishment and implementation of the IRFU elite player development pathway.
The results have been evident with the high number of players who have progressed through to full Leinster professional contracts and gone on to represent Ireland including Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney and Cian Healy.
Alongside his work on player development, McEntee has also maintained his coaching experience under the policy of appointing coaches involved in elite player management to work with underage and development teams.
McEntee recently combined coaching the Leinster ‘A’ team in the British & Irish Cup competition and the Ireland Under-19 side.
Commenting on his appointment, McEntee said: “I’ve been involved in player development for most of my career and I think when you compare the systems in place in Irish rugby 10 years ago to where they are now, it would be almost unrecognisable, such have been the advancements in the provincial academies.
“There is an incredibly high importance in any international sport, especially rugby, to have a continuous pathway for players to progress through and eventually populate the provincial and international teams.
“The challenge for all of the provincial academies and Irish rugby is to have the right combination of physical conditioning, skills, tactical awareness and most importantly the right attitude to become the next Irish professional players.
“I think we undoubtedly have the right playing talent in Irish rugby to do that and I’m looking forward to working with all of the provincial academy managers.”
Eddie Wigglesworth, IRFU Director of Rugby, said: “There is a constant challenge to maintain the levels of young professional players in our provincial teams to help fuel their success and in turn to progress to represent Ireland.
“We are delighted to be able to bring someone of Colin’s talent and experience through to this appointment in what was a very competitive and detailed process.
“His understanding on the finer details of individual player development and the co-ordination and management of an elite player system was a key factor to what was felt he would bring to the role.”