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London Irish urged to keep faith with coaching staff

By Neale Harvey

London Irish must stand by rugby director Nick Kennedy and his young coaches regardless of whether they are relegated, insists outgoing Worcester supremo Gary Gold.

One of Gold’s last acts as Worcester’s head honcho was to inflict a potentially fatal 23-8 defeat on his former club, ensuring Irish will enter New Year at the foot of the Premiership.

Irish fans are demanding change, with Kennedy and assistants Paul Hodgson and Declan Danaher in the firing line, but Gold told TRP: “We all have to go through what they’re going through and my wish would be for the London Irish board to show patience.

“There are ten games to go so a lot can still happen, but if they should go down to the Championship for one more year they need to retain faith in these young guys.

“I coached Nick Kennedy and Declan Danaher in Irish’s academy and have known Paul Hodgson for a long time as well, and what they’re learning in tough times is tremendous.

“They’ll be hurting and it annoys me when people start calling for heads to roll because you don’t want the game to be like football. The board made their decision to hire young coaches, which I feel was right, so they should stick with them.”

Gold, above, added: “They are great coaches who are only going to get better and it would be mindless to waste the experience they’re gaining. Hard times do not last forever and if Irish stand by them, they’ll reap benefits in future.”

Meanwhile, Gold expects Worcester to shine under new boss Alan Solomons, who took the reins from his fellow South African after nine matches as a consultant.

“Solly’s got wonderful experience, is ridiculously well organised and, with the uncertainty over the club’s ownership, he’ll bring certainty to the playing side,” said Gold, who expects jewels such as try machine Josh Adams to resist a move elsewhere.

(Photo: Tony Marshall / Getty Images)

Adams could be a target for Wales, but Gold insisted: “I expect good players to stay and Josh has another year on his contract. He’s been performing well for a long time, not just this season, and Wales haven’t looked at him, so why wouldn’t he want to stay?

“Whether he’s going to be put under pressure to return to Wales, I don’t know, but we’ve had the same thing with Sam Lewis and he’s just re-signed. Our front-line team is as good as anything in the Premiership and players can see how great this club can be.”

One man Gold expects to make a breakthrough with England is lock Will Spencer, whose ability, Gold claims, bears comparison with South African great Bakkies Botha.

“Will Spencer is sublime and I’m not over-exaggerating when I tell you he can do the role for England that Bakkies Botha once did for South Africa,” Gold said. “Will’s tough and uncompromising but he’s also developed as a top-class lineout caller as well.

“His work-rate is phenomenal – the equivalent of a back row forward. In my 20 years coaching I’ve not seen a guy grow as much as a person and leader.

“England have an embarrassment of second row riches, but Steve Borthwick recently spent a day with Will so he’s definitely pretty high on their radar.”

Gold takes charge of USA next month, and with just 18 months until World Cup 2019, he added: “We’re drawn in the Pool of Death with England, France and Argentina, so it’s all about getting to know the players and getting them as resilient as possible to take on those tier one sides.”

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