Updated: Monday, 31 Mar 2014 19:17 | Comments
David Nucifora will be installed as the Irish Rugby Football Union’s high performance director in time for the summer tour to Argentina, according to the Press Association.
The former Wallabies hooker is expected to take a role in Ireland’s two-Test South America tour in June, PA reported.
The 52-year-old’s appointment should be formally confirmed once the long-term wrangling over the future of European club rugby is completed.
The IRFU is understood to be keen to tie up the negotiations on the competition to replace the Heineken Cup before completing the formalities on Nucifora’s new role.
The possibility of Nucifora’s appointment has been raised previously. In November last year it was reported in Australia that he had signed up the IRFU.
Former Brumbies and Blues front-rower Nucifora will assume a post designed in part to ease some of Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt’s workload.
Nucifora’s wide-ranging remit will be to take an overview on the professional game in Ireland, ensuring performance standards and helping maintain and expand the depth of top-level talent.
The two-cap Australia forward’s appointment will not affect the make-up of Schmidt’s backroom staff, with the roles of assistant coach Les Kiss and forwards specialist John Plumtree remaining unchanged.
The IRFU hope this appointment will allow Schmidt to focus yet more intently on Ireland’s long drive towards Rugby World Cup 2015.
Ireland face Argentina in Resistencia on 7 June and again in Tucuman on 14 June.
Schmidt’s side have 10 full-blown Tests before the 2015 World Cup in England.
The former Leinster boss is yet to decide just how strong a squad he will take on tour this summer, refusing so far to rule out frontline stars like Johnny Sexton from his party for South America.
Ireland’s first big challenge now is to replace stalwart centre Brian O’Driscoll, with Robbie Henshaw and Darren Cave likely to be given opportunities in the 13 shirt during the summer.
Schmidt has already admitted the two Argentina clashes and the three autumn Tests, against South Africa, Georgia and Australia are his only realistic chances to experiment before the World Cup, given the intensity of the Six Nations.
Nucifora’s addition to the IRFU set-up should allow Schmidt total focus on the job of preparing Ireland’s World Cup assault.
Schmidt worked as Nucifora’s assistant at the Blues in Super Rugby in 2006, and the former New Zealand schoolteacher will have ratified the IRFU’s move.
After coaching the Brumbies and the Blues, Nucifora assumed the role of general manager in the ARU’s high performance unit.
Nucifora resigned his ARU post in December 2012, closely following managing director and chief executive John O’Neill’s exit.
The IRFU were unavailable for comment.