Ulster Rugby have announced that Willie Anderson and Bryan Young will join the Hughes Insurance Academy in the roles of Elite Player Development Officer and Talent Development Officer respectively.
Former Ulster and Ireland captain Willie Anderson will start work with the province in July 2016 and will operate as a forwards specialist for both the Academy and the Ulster ‘A’ team.
Anderson enjoyed an outstanding playing career that yielded 27 international caps between 1984 and 1990, before embarking on a coaching path that saw him work with Leinster Rugby, London Irish and the Scottish national team.
He also has extensive experience within the school and club game in Ulster having coached at Grosvenor GS, Sullivan Upper School, Rainey Old Boys RFC, and Dungannon RFC.
Renowned as an inspirational figurehead on the pitch, Anderson is keen to get stuck into his new role, saying: “I’m really excited about the prospect of working in the Academy and the challenge that it will bring. I’m looking forward to working with Les Kiss and Kieran Campbell, and hopefully bringing through some top quality young players over the next few years.
“My role is primarily going to be with the forwards, working with them on what is takes to be a complete professional. I’ve been fortunate enough to have experience working in a similar environment with the Irish Academy that developed players such as Paul O’Connell and Peter Stringer, so hopefully we will be able to unearth our own golden generation in Ulster.”
Commenting on the appointment, Head of the Hughes Insurance Ulster Academy, Kieran Campbell, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Willie on board. He has developed players to realise their potential at the top echelons of the game and this will be invaluable in contributing to the advancement of indigenous forwards to play at GUINNESS PRO12, Champions Cup and international standard.
“In addition, Willie’s experience will help support the development of a number of excellent young local coaches who are presently working very well within the Academy.”
Les Kiss, Ulster’s director of rugby, also welcomed the appointment, adding: “For someone of Willie’s experience to come in and work with our young forwards is going to be fantastic for us. Willie has been through every level of the game, both as a player and a coach, so his experience will certainly enhance our programme.
“We have a lot of young players that we would like to accelerate through to a higher level of rugby, so when you have someone like Willie who has been there and done it himself, and also coached it, I think that will help us immensely.”
Following an impressive playing career that yielded 132 appearances for Ulster and 8 international caps for Ireland, Bryan Young has been working within the Hughes Insurance Academy programme for the last two years in a consultancy capacity, where his focus has been on the development of forwards and leading the scrum programme within the high performance pathway.
Campbell feels that Young will also be a great addition to the Academy set-up, highlighting: “Bryan’s experience within the Academy to date, coupled with his wealth of playing experience at international and provincial level will make him a very valuable member of the team and he will be integral to the development of a significant number of identified indigenous forwards within the Ulster player pathway.”