2015 World Cup: Wales fitness coach Adam Beard heads for NFL

Adam Beard (centre) watches Wales beat South Africa in November 2014
Adam Beard (centre) watches Wales beat South Africa in November 2014

Wales have lost their leading fitness expert to an unnamed American Football team before the Rugby World Cup.

Coach Warren Gatland says Adam Beard's move to a role as a director of high performance at a NFL franchise is a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity.

Beard joined Gatland's back-room staff in 2009 and during his tenure they won two Six Nations titles.

"Adam has to take due credit for ensuring Wales is well placed for the future," said Gatland.

"While I am disappointed that Adam is leaving before the Rugby World Cup, this is an opportunity that only comes around once in a lifetime and to attract this interest from the NFL shows how far our high-performance reputation has grown in recent years."

Beard was also the lead fitness and conditioning coach when Gatland guided the 2013 British and Irish Lions to a 2-1 Test series win over Australia.

Gatland thanked Beard for helping raise Wales's fitness standards to "a new level".

He added: "The team he is part of now work to systems and structures which are precise, effective and challenging to all the players we select and monitor.

"Because the conditioning and nutrition team are working to a closely devised plan, we can ensure that we look for the very best person to replace Adam.

"Our high-performance team is incredibly strong."

Beard said he was "disappointed" to miss out on the forthcoming World Cup.

He added: "I think Wales has some of the best practitioners in the game and I have enjoyed working closely with them to provide a platform for our players to flourish on the international stage."

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