Bristol Rugby: Liam Middleton exchanges coaching ideas with the Sharks
LIAM Middleton hopes his trip to Durban to work with the Super 15 Sharks can have a positive impact on Bristol's fortunes over the coming season.
Bristol head coach Middleton recently returned from a six-day working trip to South Africa, where he shadowed the Sharks coaching staff and exchanged rugby ideas with them.
Bristol are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to secure promotion back to the Aviva Premiership at the end of the 2012-13 season – which was underlined with the recent appointment of Dean Ryan as rugby consultant.
They also hope Middleton's relationship with the Sharks, who are coached by John Plumtree and whose playing staff includes Springbok stars Ryan Kankowski, JP Pietersen and Bismarck du Plessis, can benefit them this season.
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"I spent a week with the Sharks to see what they do on a weekly basis – I worked with the coaches and also looked at the different parts of the club," said Middleton, pictured.
"They are a massive franchise in South African sport, a huge rugby organisation, and it was fascinating to see how they do things.
"But I also got to share with them how we do things at Bristol. There are obviously some things they do very, very well – but, at the same time, there are some things we do very, very well.
"Their guys were open to discussion and, as a coach, I am very open to discussion on the game, so it was a perfect fit to spend a bit of time with them.
"It was a great experience to see them up close during a training week – and there are naturally a few things I have picked up that we could try at Bristol."
Bristol chairman Chris Booy was quick to pay tribute to Middleton's broad-minded approach to coaching after his trip to South Africa.
"In fairness to Liam, he has welcomed the appointment of Dean Ryan, and he is very keen to develop his own skills, hence the trip to work with the Sharks," said Booy.