12:02am Tuesday 27th August 2013
By Chris Kirwan
MORGAN Stoddart is determined to grasp an unexpected opportunity after landing the job of Cross Keys backs coach.
A knee injury forced the former Wales full-back to retire in January and he passed the time doing a bit of coaching with the Scarlets back three.
The 28-year-old completed Welsh Rugby Union level two coaching course and planned to help out at his local club Treorchy in Division One East over the coming season.
Instead he will be looking after the Keys backs in the Premiership.
"It's come around pretty quickly," admitted the eight-times capped former full-back. "I wasn't really looking for a big coaching job but then this opportunity came around.
"Towards the end of last season I stayed on at the Scarlets working with the back three and doing some analysis with (attack coaches) Mark Jones and Sean Holley.
"This time last year I was still looking forward to being a player so I wouldn't say that coaching had ever really been on my mind until January.
"For this chance to come up is brilliant, Cross Keys is such a well-run club and that's probably why they are able to accommodate someone inexperienced like me."
Stoddart, who will combine the job with running SportsYard, an indoor sports facility in Treorchy, follows in the footsteps of fellow former Wales internationals Mark Ring and Byron Hayward.
He will work under director of rugby Jonathan Westwood and head coach Greg Woods and is keen to tap into their knowledge.
Stoddart said: "It's a great set-up here and I look forward to learning from the other coaches and I'll also speak to Byron (who left after becoming Wales Under-20s head coach) as much as possible to get his help.
"There is a good mix of youth and experience in the squad and it will be strange because some of the players are older than me!
"I hope to bring in some fresh ideas and I think one of the plus points that got me the job is that I was recently in the pro game."
Keys start their season with a British and Irish Cup play-off against Newport at Pandy Park on Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm).
The winners then head to Bedwas to establish who will represent the Dragons region in the tournament.
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