Roddy Grant praise for Ulster’s Craig Newby move

Craig Newby will become Ulster’s new skills coach at the start of next season.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 1:00 pm

The Kiwi replaces his fellow countryman Dan Soper in the role, as the latter will step up to assistant coach following Dwayne Peel’s departure from Kingspan Stadium.

Newby, a former flanker who won three caps for the All Blacks, played for the Highlanders and the Blues before having a spell with the Leicester Tigers.

He has coached in England and Japan and Ulster’s forwards coach, Roddy Grant feels he will be a valuable addition to the Kingspan Stadium backroom staff.

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Ulster coach Roddy Grant. Pic by INPHO.

“I’ve not played against him, by all accounts he seems a great bloke from what I hear,” said Grant. “Guys who know him say he’s really switched on and obviously if you’re an All Black you know your rugby.

“It’s really exciting to have him coming in, from a personal point of view too it will be great to have another back-row brain in the coaching team.”

Grant believes Newby will be made to feel welcome in Belfast just as he was.

“Everyone is individual in their approach, it’s a great bunch of guys, well-supported, special place.

“Growing up in Africa, high school in South Africa, it’s a really passionate place and that’s what I love about here.

“It’s unashamedly proud and passionate.

“Wearing jerseys, getting behind the team, I find that awesome about Ulster, the whole city and region are passionate about it and I love that.

“There’s a real sense of pride in that jersey and I feel that coaching...for Craig, I’m sure it will be the same.”

“It’s a huge thing coming in knowing how much it means, obviously to the players, but then to see the supporters, the media...that certainly wasn’t lost on me and I’m sure it won’t be lost on anyone coming in.

“It’s the same as anything, like a kid coming into a new school, you just hope people are nice.

“The people in the environment, they have to make people welcome and I think we’re good at that here.”

Springbok No8 Marcell Coetzee is likely to be sidelined for three months with the thigh injury he picked up in the defeat against Leinster last Saturday.

Grant admits the South African is a big loss for Ulster but also sees it as an opportunity for the other back rows in the squad to step up to the plate.

“That’s why you have a squad, Marcell is obviously one of our best players but it’s a good opportunity for other guys to come in,” said Grant. “There’s been periods over the last couple years that he hasn’t been available and boys have stepped up and done well.

“Even over the last couple of weeks, Nick Timoney has come in and he’s played really, really well.

“In terms of like-for-like, guys get an opportunity to come in and it’s up to them to play well but it’s more about the blend of the back row.

“I’m certainly a believer that the blend is important, you’ve got three guys who need to do different roles and that’s not necessarily to do with the number on their back.

“You’ll miss guys through injury, that’s pro rugby, when it’s one of your best guys, obviously you don’t want that but others will step up.

“Marcell has been awesome for us this year.”

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