Andy Friend Q&A

Paul Eddison
07 November 2018

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Connacht head coach Andy Friend reveals which coach he and Eddie Jones both admire, what makes Jarrad Butler stand out and why he would fancy taking on Johnny Sexton.

Is there a coach that you admire, one that you take inspiration from?

“There’s a lot of different coaches. I did some work with the AFL before I came back over here, and I enjoyed working with John Worsfold of the Essendon Bombers. Trent Robinson with the Sydney Roosters in rugby league, I admire some of the stuff he’s done. Pep Guardiola, I read some of his book and his philosophies too. Some older coaches too out of the USA. You’re forever learning, if you stop learning and listening to other people’s views you’ll be done pretty quickly. There’s probably no-one specifically, but they’re the three coaches I’ve looked at closely over the last 12 months.

“I know Eddie Jones spent some time with Pep Guardiola and he was very impressed with him. It takes a lot to impress Eddie Jones.”

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt since you’ve gone into coaching?

“I continue to learn that relationships are the most important thing. My philosophy has always been you need to know the game. But after a certain length of time you know the game and what makes it function and makes it successful – attack system, defence system, forward system. To me the thing that never changes is the way you try and form a relationship which is the most important thing for me.”

Who’s the hardest trainer at the club?

“That’s a tough one. Honestly, they are a very diligent group in the way that they apply themselves. I think our skipper Jarrad Butler is nominated by his peers as the hardest trainer because he lives those behaviours, a set of five behaviours we have identified, he lives them better than anyone else, so you would have to say him.

Anyone you can see becoming a coach down the line?

“I don’t know why this is but hookers and full-backs always seem to gravitate towards management, they’ve got that desire to do it. Listening to Matt Healy and Tiernan O’Halloran at the back of the field you can see that they see the game very clearly. Tom McCartney sees the game very well, he’s a hooker. It just depends what they want to do post-rugby. There’s a lot of people who have had that career as a player and just want to get out of the game. But I’d suggest we have a handful of players who could manage if they’d want to do it.”

If you were a player in the Guinness PRO14 this season, which player would you like to go up against?

“It’s got to be Johnny Sexton, he’s a pretty special footballer. I love the intensity he plays with so it’d be good to have a crack at him.”

If it’s not Connacht, who’s going to win the Guinness PRO14 this season?

“It’s very early days yet. If you look at last year’s form and what Leinster did you’ve got to say they’re a quality side but a year is a long time in football – the hard thing is backing a win up. It’s a really good question, let’s hope it’s Connacht.”

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