Guinness PRO12: Duncan Hodge returning to Edinburgh

Scotland coach to become Gunners' backs coach with Manawatu head coach Jason O'Halloran replacing him on a two-year deal

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Vern Cotter and Duncan Hodge watch on during a Scotland captain's run Photo: Jason O'Callaghan

Scotland assistant coach Duncan Hodge will return to Edinburgh Rugby next season as the club’s backs coach.

The 40-year-old former Edinburgh, Leeds and Scotland outside-half will link up with Alan Solomons and Stevie Scott at the Guinness PRO12 club following the conclusion of his commitments with Scotland at the Rugby World Cup later this year.

I want to coach, to be able to help young Scottish players get better and I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to do that at a club that means so much to me.

Duncan Hodge

The move to the European Challenge Cup runners-up comes as Scotland head coach Vern Cotter, who inherited a backroom staff from Scott Johnson last summer, begins to shape a new team to see the Dark Blues through the Rugby World Cup later this year and beyond.

Scotland scrum coach Massimo Cuttitta has already departed with former lock Nathan Hines brought in on a two-year deal earlier this month as a “resource coach”, while the future of forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys is uncertain with his contract up at the end of the Rugby World Cup.

Hodges, who currently at Canterbury High Performance Unit in Christchurch, is looking forward to his return to coaching throughout the season.

“I want to coach, to be able to help young Scottish players get better and I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to do that at a club that means so much to me,” Hodge said.

“I spent many happy years with Edinburgh as a player and know a lot of the current players well through my role with the Scotland national squad.

“To get to work with the players throughout the season, as opposed to short bursts, will be great, and I’m really looking forward to developing as a coach with Alan and working alongside Stevie.”

Capped 26 times for Scotland, Hodge began his coaching career with academy players at Leeds before coaching at Watsonians from 2005 to 2007.

Not only is he a great coach, but he’s a great guy, and I’ll enjoy exchanging with him through the national set-up. I’m sure he’ll do an excellent job.

Vern Cotter

In 2007, he was employed by former Scotland head coach Frank Hadden as a part-time specialist coach at Edinburgh Rugby, Glasgow Warriors and the national team, before going full-time in 2012.

In 2013, Hodge was promoted to Scotland assistant coach and took charge of the Scotland A team that defeated England Saxons 13-9 at Kingston Park in the same year before being assigned to coaching Scotland’s backs.

Cotter, who became Scotland head coach last summer, believes Hodge’s return to the Gunners, where he made 150 appearances in 11 seasons and briefly coached at the end of 2012/13 season with Stevie Scott prior to Alan Solomons’ arrival as head coach, will be a great move for him.

“Duncan is a very good coach, and I’ve enjoyed working with him,” Cotter said.

“As an ex-player, I think he’s always held this desire to coach Edinburgh and this move gives him an opportunity to coach continuously, at a professional level.

“I think it’s important for him to bring the things he’s learned from the international environment to the club, in what I think is a great move for him, his personal development and the club.

“He’ll be working with players that are, or will become, Scotland international rugby players and knows what skill-sets are important to play at that level.

“Not only is he a great coach, but he’s a great guy, and I’ll enjoy exchanging with him through the national set-up. I’m sure he’ll do an excellent job.”

Hodge will be succeeded in the Scotland coaching ranks by highly-rated Jason O’Halloran (pictured above), the Manawatu head coach whose contract will end on 30 October..

I just felt in terms of being the best coach I can be, working with Vern is a way of getting there. It’s not a snub on New Zealand rugby.

Jason O’Halloran

The 43-year-old former Wellington and Hurricanes centre led the Palmerston North-based club to their second NPC Championship title last year, the union’s first silverware since 1980, with Cotter’s brother Jeremy – O’Halloran’s assistant – already confirmed as his replacement by the Manawatu Rugby Union.

While the move has not been confirmed by the Scottish Rugby Union, O’Halloran has already spoken about the move that will see him become Scotland backs coach on a two-year deal as a way to further his coaching career after being invited to apply for the role by Cotter and visiting the country in February 2015.

“I didn’t foresee I would get an opportunity with an international side so it’s a pretty good opportunity,” he told the told the Manawatu Standard.

“If Vern wants to move on it might open a few other doors.

“I just felt in terms of being the best coach I can be, working with Vern is a way of getting there. It’s not a snub on New Zealand rugby.

“If you talk to people around who they think a potential successor is for Steve Hansen, the two names I always hear are [Chiefs head coach] Dave Rennie and Vern Cotter.”

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