MIKE Poole will cut his coaching teeth in the Irish city where he locked horns with an All Blacks legend and saw yellow for a tip tackle after landing a job in Cork, writes Chris Kirwan.
The 28-year-old, who was a crowd favourite with Newport and then the Dragons because of his wholehearted approach to the game, moves to Ireland at the end of the month to become assistant coach at Highfield RFC.
Poole was forced to retire after suffering a serious neck injury playing for Llanelli against Swansea last December.
But a chat with his former Dragons teammate Tim Ryan, a Cork native, has led to him getting a role at Highfield, the club where Ireland and Munster lock Donncha O'Callaghan first played.
"I fancied a change and it's a great opportunity," said Poole, who is from Penarth. "I love the game and I am so pleased to be staying involved in it.
"I am missing rugby so much but I realise how lucky I am after my injury – what Owen Williams (the Cardiff Blues and Wales centre who is being treated in the capital after suffering a "significant injury" to his cervical vertebrae and spinal cord) is going through puts things in perspective.
"I've done bits of coaching with local teams in the past and I wish I had done more of it earlier in my career because you don't realise just how much you have taken in through the years.
"Hopefully I'll be able to pass some of that knowledge on in Ireland; it's a new challenge and I'm looking forward to it."
Poole became a firm favourite at Newport RFC and 48 tries in 105 appearances earned him a crack at regional rugby.
Injuries prevented the hugely committed winger from being a roaring success – he played just 13 times for the Dragons and his dual-contract with Wales Sevens and the Scarlets was cut short by his blow to the neck – but he did get to play twice against Munster at Musgrave Park.
He said: "It was a baptism of fire when I went up against Doug Howlett on my Dragons debut and then I only lasted a few minutes on my Scarlets debut before being sin-binned!"
Highfield will hope Cork proves to be kinder to Poole in the coming season.