Chiefs assistant Coventry packing for London

The former Waikato loose forward will replace Australian Brian Smith, who left the club this week.

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“I have a job to do with the Chiefs this season and will concentrate on the next phase of my career with London Irish at the end of the Super Rugby season,” Coventry said in a statement on Wednesday.

“I have enjoyed my time with the Chiefs and will continue to do so until it is time to go, but I think to stay fresh as a coach it is important to immerse yourself in new environments, new challenges and experiences which is what I am going to do.”

One of Coventry’s first recruits is expected to be All Blacks prop Ben Franks, with New Zealand media reporting earlier this week the 41-test veteran will leave to link up with the club after this year’s World Cup in England.

Franks’ 30-year-old’s All Blacks team mate Jeremy Thrush has confirmed he will leave New Zealand rugby after the global tournament, having signed a contract with Gloucester.

The lock, who will be 30 in April, was a late bloomer to international rugby and only made his test debut in 2013. He has played 11 tests for the team since and was man of the match in their narrow win over Scotland last November.

“Signing a player of Jeremy’s ability further highlights Gloucester’s ambition to compete with the best clubs in Europe,” Gloucester coach David Humphreys said in a statement.

“He has been a standout performer in Super Rugby … and the experience he has gained being part of a successful All Blacks squad will be a key element in establishing Gloucester as one of the dominant forward packs in England.”

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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