Joe Gadd looking forward to new coaching role with Hornets

Joe Gadd made his debut for Hornets as a 19-year-old during the 2012/13 season. Picture: James Wain

Joe Gadd made his debut for Hornets as a 19-year-old during the 2012/13 season. Picture: James Wain Sports Photography. - Credit: Archant

As Joe Gadd gets ready to step out on the pitch at The Nest for Hornets’ first training season since the easing of lockdown rules – like he would have done plenty of times before – the former full-back finds himself in new surroundings following his decision to retire in May.

Joe Gadd scores one of his 66 tries for Hornets.

Joe Gadd scores one of his 66 tries for Hornets. - Credit: Archant

Gadd is now the club’s newly appointed assistant coach, following a successful playing career with his hometown club, and will work alongside both Jon Richardson and Rob Dempsey ahead of the upcoming 2020-21 campaign.

“We started a couple of weeks ago,” began Gadd.

“It was really good being on the other side.

“This will be a massive year full of learning for me under both JR – who is a really good coach and I have got a lot to learn from him – and Rob (Dempsey).

Hornets vs Crediton, Joe Gadd breaking through to score for Hornets during their 55-3 win over Credi

Hornets vs Crediton, Joe Gadd breaking through to score for Hornets during their 55-3 win over Crediton in November. Picture: MARK ATHERTON - Credit: Archant

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“This year I will be in the background taking on everything I can, get my badges and I am really looking forward to it.”

Since the easing of lockdown rules, Hornets are meeting up every Tuesday and Thursday for training, starting with the front five at 6pm, the middle five at 7pm, followed by the back five from 8pm.

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And 28-year-old Gadd admits he learnt a lot from his new role in their very first training session back.

“First and foremost it was nice to be back and see everyone,” he added.

“In between each group I had to go away and clean the ball, I’ve gone from the highs of being captain of the club to being the chief ball cleaner, that was a change and very different!

“The groups were spread out and you couldn’t have that much particular contact with the players.

“It was very much based on being in your own space and just getting some running in the legs as opposed to anything to technical at this stage, but the club is already well set up.

“There were hand sanitiser stations everywhere, places to clean and a report that had gone out of how we need to act.

“The club is very much ahead of the curve, everyone is being well looked after.

“We are looking very strong squad-wise and a very multi squad buy-in. It’s not just people trying to get in the first team that were there, it was the old boys from the third team having a run around and getting involved.

“It’s part of that grassroots club atmosphere we have got and it’s a really great place to be and as a former first-team captain I can walk around, know everyone’s first name from the third team to the fourth team. It is a really good buy-in.”

Gadd’s association with the South West Premier side began during the 2012-13 season, when on the first of 132 appearances for the club, the 19-year-old scored the first of his 66 tries against local rivals Yatton.

But after seven seasons with Hornets, Gadd suffered a shoulder injury during their 22-18 win over Crediton in March, which would mark his last game with the club as he would make the hard decision to announce his retirement at the end of the season.

“I announced I wasn’t going to play anymore and I told Jon and Rob first, they were both keen for me to be involved,” he said.

“Ian Humphries, the Director of Rugby, was also keen for me to stay.

“Obviously that was exactly what I wanted too, as I wanted to make sure I was still there on match days, training days and doing everything I was doing before, just not actually playing.

“That role emerged from there to become an assistant coach and the club are going to help me do my badges.

“I will do my level one and two this year which is something I never really thought about before.

“I’ve got their full support and they are going to help me.

“I should have already done one at least by now, but because of everything going on it’s taken a back seat, but the role wasn’t particularly very formal, it was a no-brainier from everyone involved.”

Despite coming from a family associated with the Hornets, where this season will see four family members play for the club, Gadd will face his brother Jack, who is now a coach at Old Redcliffians, which he says he takes a lot of inspiration from.

“He coaches various small groups throughout the week,” he added.

“I go and learn what I can from him because Jon and him were the original guys involved when we started going up.

“Jack has since moved on to do other things, he’s at the college and has been coaching at higher leagues but Old Redcliffians came down last year so we will get that derby day again.

“It is really good to be able to learn from him and I can’t praise him enough really.”

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