Former Exeter Chiefs star Jess joins Devon's coaching team

13 Mar 2018 09:13 | Sara Raine

FORMER Exeter Chiefs star Matt Jess will be part of Devon RFU’s coaching team for the 2018 County Championship.

Jess, who is a coach at Newton Abbot, will join Dan Parkes and Lewis Paterson in the Devon senior set-up.

Parkes and Paterson were involved last year on the county’s return to the top flight.

“It’s great to have Matt involved,” said head coach Parkes. “Having a new voice always helps.

“Matt will take charge of the attack, Lewis will look after defence and I will concentrate on the forwards.”

Former England Counties player Jess, who represented Cornwall before going on to play in the Premiership, is relishing getting involved with Devon. 

“I am really looking forward to it,” he said. “Coaching a county side with good players mixed from around the region will be different to what I am doing at the moment.

“It will be a chance to test my coaching. You have players from a number of clubs and you have to try to get them to play in a structure that can win some County Championships games.

“It should be really good and really testing. Hopefully, I can come in and have an impact.”

Jess has been making an impact at Newton Abbot this season after joining them in the summer from Exeter. The Devon All Whites are pushing hard for runners-up spot in the South West Premier League.

The 33-year-old believes his passion for rugby is helping him transition from a player to a coach.

“It is quite a hard transition,” he said. “I am player-coach at Newton Abbot this year, but it is different. It does give you a different outlook on things and you have to really get into the nitty-gritty and details of specific actions. For example, if you are not getting quick ball, you have to start looking at breakdowns and stuff.

“But, to be fair, I have really enjoyed it even though it has been challenging and testing. It is a tough transition, but it is an easier one when you are passionate about the game.”

Jess, however, knows coaching a representative side will be tougher as you do not have the same preparation time with players.

“There is not a huge amount of preparation,” he said. “But you have to take into consideration that a lot of the players will have played a lot of rugby throughout the year. As long as you can make the structure and game-plan quite simple then I think you are onto a winner.

“I think the worst thing you can do is over complicate things and then it takes two or three games to settle in. In the County Championship you don’t have two or three games to settle in - you have to be firing in that first game.”

Devon’s opening County Championship game will be against Gloucestershire at Brixham on May 5.

However, before that they will play Cornwall in the annual Tamar Cup, which this year will be held at St Austell on April 16.

Devon will also play Cornwall away on May 12 in their second County Championship fixture. That match will be held at Camborne, with Devon’s final game against Kent at Charlton Park on May 19.