Plymouth Albion boss gets England Counties head coach role

By Brent PilnickBBC Sport
James Shanahan

Plymouth Albion head coach James Shanahan has been named as head coach for England Counties' tour to Georgia.

The former Hertfordshire boss will be assisted by Cornish Pirates player-coach Alan Paver, who will be responsible for the forwards.

"I'm expecting a massive physical confrontation," Shanahan said.

"Most of the Georgians play in the French league, they're big physical players and I expect it to be really hard up front," he told BBC Sport.

Shanahan last season and has stepped in as regular head coach Steve Pope is unavailable.

He says the services of Paver are vital as they try and deal with the physical challenge faced by the England Counties forwards.

"I get on well with him, I trust him and that's one of the big things in coaching, you have to trust the people around you.

"I know he'll get the respect of the players, he's someone with over 300 games in the Championship and he's well known around rugby circles."

Four of team have made the England squad.

Cornwall skipper Ben Hilton will captain the side while Jamie Salter, Lewis Vinnicombe and Jamal Ford-Robinson are all in the 26-man group.

"England Counties players are all part-time players," Shanahan said.

"They'll be playing against full-time professionals who are big and physical, it's going to be a big challenge, but one I'm really looking forward to."