x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Rugby union: Jeremy Manning would jump at Harlequins chance

The former Munster and Newcastle Falcons back is understood to be on a short-list of candidates to be discussed as coach at a meeting of the club's committee

Jeremy Manning has not looked back at the offers he has turned down to stay in Abu Dhabi and play rugby part-time. Now the Abu Dhabi Harlequins may come calling for the 27 year old, whose name, it is said, is on the team's short list of coaching candidates.
Jeremy Manning has not looked back at the offers he has turned down to stay in Abu Dhabi and play rugby part-time. Now the Abu Dhabi Harlequins may come calling for the 27 year old, whose name, it is said, is on the team's short list of coaching candidates.

Abu Dhabi // Jeremy Manning says he would relish the opportunity to move into a full-time coaching role if offered the chance at Abu Dhabi Harlequins.

The club are in the process of looking for a successor to Chris Davies, who resigned as the director of rugby this week in favour of a move to coach in Hong Kong.

The capital's leading side are likely to dispense with the director-of-rugby role in favour of two separate positions, one for the flagship men's team and another governing the rest of the club.

Manning, who excelled in his debut campaign as a fly-half for Quins last season, appears to be the outstanding candidate to take the reins as coach of the senior teams.

"If I do get the job it would be amazing," said Manning, the former Munster and Newcastle Falcons back who is understood to be on a short-list of candidates to be discussed at a meeting of the club's committee on Monday.

"The club is moving in the right direction coming off the back of last year and thanks to what Chris Davies has done."

At 27, Manning would represent a youthful choice as coach, but he already has a wealth of experience to call on following a decade in the professional game.

In the past year he has turned down six offers - three in France and three in his native New Zealand - to return to the professional ranks. He admits he was "an hour away" from accepting a three-month deal to play for Waikato in New Zealand's domestic provincial competition.

It would have been the first time in more than 10 years that he had lived and played in his homeland. He opted to stay in Abu Dhabi, though, and commit himself to his growing portfolio as a personal-fitness instructor, as well as his part-time role with the rugby club.

"I've loved every single minute of being out here," he said. "Doors have opened in all different directions. When you are a professional rugby player or professional athlete you get stuck in a bubble.

"As soon as I came out of that, doors opened and I realised there is a lot more to life."

Whoever is instilled in the role will have a tough act to follow. Quins lost just six first-XV matches in Davies's two years at the helm, and won three major trophies in the process.

If Manning were to be handed the newly available top job, it would likely have a positive effect on the playing numbers at the club, given the high regard in which he is held by his peers.

Alistair Thompson, the former UAE captain who prematurely ended his playing career at age 33 a year ago, has intimated he would be keen to return to the fold if Manning takes the position.

He also has an enviable contacts book, too, not solely via his former professional career but also as a regular sevens tourist.

He has played in invitational tournaments in Ibiza, Amsterdam and London this summer, with a forthcoming trip to Prague also planned.

Davies has said he will do all he can to smooth the handover to his replacement before he leaves at the start of August.

The Welshman also revealed that having Manning involved in a greater capacity than the mentor role he played last season has long been part of the plan.

"It was part of the plan to have Jeremy as part of the coaching team this season, anyway, utilising his conditioning expertise as well as his rugby knowledge," Davies said.

"Everything is in place for the transition, now it is just about handing over a lot of the information."

 

pradley@thenational.ae

 

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