Mulvihill announces his full coaching staff

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John Mulvihill has moved quickly to organise his coaching setup for next season, bringing in a group of young Welsh coaches with promising futures in the game.

As previously reported, Richard Hodges will stay with Cardiff Blues next season in his new role as full-time defence coach after a year under the tutorship of Shaun Edwards during the last campaign.

He will be joined by his former Wales U20 colleague Jason Strange (backs/attack) and current Cardiff Blues academy coach Duane Goodfield (scrum), while Tom Smith joins the Ospreys as forwards coach, with Mulvihill building a full coaching staff ready for pre-season.

Richard Hodges Cardiff Blues
Richard Hodges has coached the Cardiff Blues Premiership Select and Anglo-Welsh Cup sides

It was back in 2016 that Wales U20, containing eight young Cardiff Blues players, stormed to an U20 Six Nations Grand Slam, their first ever title in the competition.

Heading that up was former Ebbw Vale, Newport and Bristol fly-half Strange, who has been in post as Wales U20 head coach since leaving a coaching role at Eugene Cross Park in 2015.

Strange, 44, has earned plenty of plaudits during his time with the 20s due to their fast and expansive attacking game, and will take up the role as backs/attack coach at the Cardiff Blues in his first foray into professional club coaching.

Jason Strange
Jason Strange with young Cardiff Blues fly-half Ben Jones

He will be joined by another familiar face at the Arms Park in Duane Goodfield, who made 26 Cardiff Blues appearances between 2005 and 2008 after graduating from the academy, before playing for a host of other teams, both club and regional, in South Wales.

Goodfield became head coach at Cardiff RFC in 2016/17, before moving into the Blues setup full-time last season with the transitional players, and will now step up to be full-time senior scrum coach at the Vale.

Duane Goodfield playing
Duane Goodfield in his Cardiff Blues playing days

The final piece of the puzzle will likely be an unknown one to Cardiff Blues fans, in the shape of Tom Smith.

Ospreys skill coach Smith was forced to retire from playing aged 29 after a serious knee ligament injury, having played 94 times for the West Wales side over seven seasons, and earned Wales U19 and U21 honours.

A second row/flanker in his playing days, Smith moved into coaching quite quickly after his retirement, acting as Elite Youth Performance Manager in the Ospreys pathway, before moving up to skills coach with the academy and first team under Allen Clarke.

Smith, now 32, will become forwards coach at Cardiff Blues, as he looks to build on his reputation as a highly rated young coach.

Tom Smith
Tom Smith’s playing career was curtailed by injury

With an average age of under 40 years old, the coaching staff will definitely have a youthful field to it, but with the squad having a young average age, it will be exciting to see these promising coaches and players working and improving together under the oversight of John Mulvihill.

There is also the advantage of Strange, Hodges and Goodfield having worked with a number of the young players in the squad through the national and regional age grade setups. The new coaches and a large amount of the players will be used to each other.

Add in the fact that the majority of the senior members in the squad are all keen to move on to coaching themselves, and there will no doubt be plenty of guidance from the player leadership group to help Cardiff Blues reach the ultimate goal of bringing through this golden crop of youngsters.

Mulvihill is also looking to bring in a rugby general manager as a replacement for Billy Millard. That person will look after retention and recruitment of players, allowing the head coach to focus his time on the coaching field.

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