New Connacht boss Eric Elwood has described the chance to take over at the Galway-based province as a ‘massive opportunity’.
The former Ireland outside-half, who made 168 appearances for Connacht during his time as a player, will replace Michael Bradley at the helm next season.
The 41-year-old enters the role confident in his own ability but equally aware that he faces a tough task to transform Connacht from Magners League strugglers to Play-Off contenders.
“I loved what I used to do when I was playing so to get the opportunity to come in and coach has given me the confidence to push on,” said Elwood, who has been an assistant coach at the province for the past four-and-a-half years.
“I firmly believe in my ability and it’s a massive opportunity.
“Of course I’m passionate but that will only get you so far and I’m well aware of that. We’re playing against top-tier teams in the Magners League and we all know that the Magners League is a very, very competitive league.
“Fire and brimstone and heart will get you so far but my job, with my back up staff, is to bring the best out of players.”
Connacht have traditionally been seen as the weakest of the four Irish provinces but Elwood insists there is a good platform in place to help improve upon that standing over the coming years.
Connacht have a healthy reputation for developing young, Irish talent and Elwood says that will continue if he has his way.
Elwood intends to place an even greater emphasis on the development of up and coming players – particularly those from the local community – and that should be met with approval by supporters of both Connacht and Ireland.
“It goes without saying that the work that the academy are doing is fantastic,” added Elwood.
“It’s something that we’re looking at – to increase the academy side of things, to increase the development side of things and maybe bring in more players.
“We’re really keen on pushing the indigenous players. If they’re good enough, they’ll get their chance. I think it’s very important to raise the profile of the game in the west. It’s very important that we keep that Connacht identity.
“I like to think I have a good rapport with the players. I’ve brought young players here with me from Ireland Under 20s, I’ve brought other players here and I’d like to think that they’ve impressed and that they’ve improved.
“Some of them have gone on to get caps at A level, Under 20s, senior level, so I’d like to think I can offer them something.
“Our biggest currency down here is game time. They’re getting good coaching, I believe, and they’re becoming better players for Connacht and for Ireland.”