RUGBY UNION: Exiles extend Burnell's deal

Herald Series: Justin Burnell Justin Burnell

LONDON Welsh head coach Justin Burnell said he had no hesitation in penning a new deal at the club.

The Exiles announced Burnell’s contract extension yesterday, although they would not say how long he had signed for.

Burnell’s new deal comes as a boost to the Oxford-based club as they target promotion back to the Aviva Premiership.

“I love it here, it’s great,” said Burnell, who joined Welsh from Cardiff Blues last June.

“It’s a good environment with good people and I’m just happy to extend my contract.”

Burnell’s career at Cardiff included Amlin Challenge and EDF Energy Cup success and reaching the Heineken Cup semi-finals and quarter-finals, while he also guided Wales Under 19s to a Grand Slam in 2006.

He added: “Before joining London Welsh, I’d previously only worked in one professional rugby environment, at Cardiff Blues, where we enjoyed huge success.

“After leaving, I was given a fantastic opportunity by London Welsh to coach in a professional environment again, and the experience has been a breath of fresh air and one I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

“The preparation at London Welsh is no different to the preparation at Cardiff Blues going into a Heineken Cup semi-final or Amlin Challenge Cup final. It’s been fantastic.

“The reason why we had success at the Blues was because of the culture and work ethic within the environment, and we’ve put the same principles in place at London Welsh.”

Burnell is a big believer in rotating his squad in the Greene King IPA Championship, which has largely paid dividends.

But he has also set up loan arrangements with National 1 clubs Henley Hawks, Blackheath and Rosslyn Park to keep players sharp when they are not making the first team.

“That’s why we do it,” said Burnell. “It’s all about keeping people involved.

“There is nothing worse than when a player comes in for his chance, but is a bit rusty.

“It has worked really well for James Tincknell at Blackheath and Joe Ajuwa at Rosslyn Park.”

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