Kieran Campbell: Tony McWhirter says Academy boss will be 'huge loss to Ulster'

Kieran Campbell has been Ulster Academy Manager since 2015
Kieran Campbell was appointed Ireland Under-20 coach two months ago

BBC Radio Ulster rugby pundit Tony McWhirter says Kieran Campbell's apparent decision to leave Ulster is a "huge loss" for the province.

The Ulster Academy Manager is reported to have accepted a job with English Championship club Ealing Trailfinders.

"I know Kieran was maybe looking to get himself involved in the management set-up at Ulster and that obviously hasn't come to fruition," said McWhirter.

"From Kieran's perspective, he wants to coach at the top level."

Speaking on Radio Ulster while co-commentating on Ulster's win over Zebre on Friday evening, McWhirter added: "The likes of (Ronan) O'Gara, (Jeremy) Davidson, (Paul) O'Connell, (Mark) McCall…they go away, they don't always come back.

"I know Kieran will be a huge loss to the Ulster organisation because both as a player and then in terms of what he's done to the Academy, he's given his best years to the organisation.

"He's got a wealth of knowledge. With the Ireland Under-20s he's been number two to Noel McNamara for the last couple of years and was just about to take over the mantle of that side. It must have been a big wrench for him to leave."

McWhirter added that it is his understanding Campbell will take on a backs coach role with Ealing and also have a "major influence" in the club's academy structure.

Campbell, who won three Ireland caps during his playing career, was made Ulster Academy boss in 2015 after a stint as the province's elite performance development officer.

His former Ulster team-mate McWhirter believes Campbell's knowledge of both the schools and club scene in the province will be hard to replace.

"Kieran knows the schools and the club situation so well also. That's where Ulster have to be organic and garner their players from there.

"Do they (now) appoint from within or do they have to throw the net wide and look further afield and with that comes a lack of knowledge in terms of what's available at home?"

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