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In The Spotlight: Greig Oliver

11th July 2014 By Munster Rugby

We catch up with Elite Player Development Officer Greig Oliver on his role with the Greencore Munster Academy and his recent experience at the 2014 Junior World Championship.

We catch up with Elite Player Development Officer Greig Oliver on his role with the Greencore Munster Academy and his recent experience at the 2014 Junior World Championship.

A former international scrum-half, Oliver represented Scotland at two World Cups in ‘87 and ’91, as well as facing the mighty All Blacks on their home turf in Auckland. Following spells as Academy Manager for the Scottish Rugby Union and Director of Rugby at Garryowen, the Scot joined the province in September 2011 as an Elite Player Development Officer and at the same time became Assistant Coach for the Ireland U20s. He began by telling us about his current role within Munster.

“We develop players that have come though Munster schools and clubs and bring them through the Academy system. Our aim is to give them all the ingredients needed to become a professional player and hopefully excel for Munster and Ireland. For that to happen is what gives us our greatest sense of job satisfaction."

With international players still to return to the Senior fold, Academy members are given the opportunity to train with the Senior squad for the first two weeks of pre-season, an opportunity which Oliver believes will benefit the young players greatly.

“The intensity in those sessions is excellent for the lads and to be able to sustain it at that level is ultimately what we are looking for from players. Likewise when the Internationals return to Senior training and our lads return to Academy sessions, we try to raise the bar, work at that intensity and make sure that the same level of accuracy is there.”

Oliver and his Academy colleagues notice more than the physical and rugby development of a player, but also the transformation of a youth player into a well rounded young man.

“A proper lifestyle is what we hope to achieve for the lads. How we conduct ourselves off the field is as important as how we conduct ourselves on the field. We look for the all-round player, and not just on the pitch, but in his mental approach, how he addresses different facets of his game and how he performs under pressure.

“There’s a lot we look at from a holistic point of view. It’s about the make-up of the player and the person themselves. Rugby is a funny game, one minute you’re riding high and the next minute you can get a big injury and you’re gone, so a balance of education with training is massively important.”

2014 saw Ireland U20s reach a Junior World Championship semi-final for the first time in their history and as Assistant Coach for the Irishmen, he reflects on their recent campaign.

“Going to New Zealand in particular, where rugby is like a religion, was a massive experience for everyone involved. I’ve been involved for a few years but this was the first time where we were in charge of our own destiny, especially going into the third game. We really picked things up against Wales, in fact the second half against the Welsh was the most satisfying part of the campaign as we played to our optimum that night. It was disappointing against England as we gave them too much momentum and that thought us a hard lesson, while against New Zealand we performed well but tailed off at the end. It’s never nice to lose the last two games but the lads can take a lot from the experience and they did very well to put themselves in a third place play-off position.

“All eight of our Munster representatives can be very proud of how they acquitted themselves with each of them in contention for selection for every game, and the whole team was very well led by captain Jack O’Donoghue. Having that experience will help the lads develop as well as the Academy as a whole when they bring that level of experience into training sessions. However the most important thing now is how they kick on from here.”

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