Sale Sharks kicking coach Jon Callard admits he is getting a kick out of being part of the club’s drive for long-term success.
Jon enjoyed a hugely successful career as a player with Bath, winning five caps for England and being part of the national squad at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa, before launching a hugely successful coaching career most latterly with the RFU.
Now, Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond has sought to tap into Callard’s extensive experience by bringing him on board to beef up the club’s coaching team as specialist kicking/ strategy coach.
And Callard has revealed that he is revelling in helping add his input to what he says is a ‘progressive, exciting’ coaching set-up.
“I’m loving what I’m doing and it’s just great to be back involved in rugby as part of a coaching team that is progressive, I think as we move forward it is really exciting,” said Jon.
“I think everything that surrounds the club from the owners and their plans for the development of the club is just so exciting.
“I was really brought in to help bring an identity to the club’s kicking game and game management.
“But, as much as I can, I also support the other coaches at the club and I really enjoy that, working with Forsh (defence coach Mike Forshaw), with Deacs (attack coach Paul Deacon) and Pete (forwards coach Pete Anglesea).
“Primarily though it’s about the kicking identity and offering support to those kickers who maybe hadn’t had that support before.
“I enjoy working with AJ MacGinty and to see how he’s developing, as well as with Will Addison and Faf De Klerk who has been a real find as a goal-kicker too.
“But it is not just about the top two, it’s about the sustainability so when it comes to selection it makes it easier for the selectors to say ‘OK, we’ll give him a rest. Even though he’s number one kicker we’ve got two or three other guys who are also good.’
“We’re also looking at the pathway towards the next wave of kickers coming through the club.
“And we’re blessed at the moment – we’ve got Kieran Wilkinson and Cameron Redpath who are two very, very good youngsters, so it’s all very positive at the moment.”
After stepping away from the RFU as national performance academy manager and international performance coach following a lengthy 12-year stay at Twickenham, Callard originally planned to take at least a year out away from the game.
But he admitted he soon realised that his involvement in rugby was an itch that needed scratching.
“I really enjoyed it at the RFU but it is no secret that things were moving in a different direction, which happens. So I decided I would step away from the game for at least a year and then six months in, I found I missed it,” Jon revealed.
“The dark months were coming in, and there was a lot of rugby happening and I missed it badly. The opportunity came up here and to be part of such a progressive, exciting place looking to harvest these young talents is so rewarding.
“Everyone knows that my background is in development and the vision here is to have a long-term, self-sustaining academy producing players and that’s really exciting.
“I understand that you have to get your players in as well but to have that as one of your mantras is a really strong, positive message for the area and any aspiring youngster who wants to play at the highest level. They will know that they can do it right here.
“The buzz of coaching, and it’s second to playing really, lies in seeing players come through.
“At the centre is the player and we’re only here as facilitators to help the player to be best he can be.
“If they can be the best they can be, they will perform to their potential. Potential will turn into performance, performance will turn into results and results turn into a community that really enjoys what they are doing.
“The player is right at the centre of this and we’ve got to make it the best for the player – it’s as simple as that.”