Terry Fanolua: I would love to coach Gloucester Rugby, but not yet
Terry Fanolua has spent the last three years trying to retire from playing – without success.
The former Gloucester stalwart is aiming to step up his coaching career, and is seeking a return to England.
TERRY Fanolua will always consider himself a Gloucester player.
He does not believe he is ready yet, but one day he would love to be a Gloucester coach too.
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The brutal Samoan should long since have hung up the boots, by his own admission.
But the 38-year-old is a sucker for an emergency.
Every season for the last three, he has told his French bosses at Soyaux-Angouleme he has played his last game – only to be dragged out of retirement to ease one injury crisis after another.
And when Nigel Davies asked him to address the Gloucester squad in the summer, Fanolua jumped on the first plane from the south of France.
If anyone could set the tone for a new Kingsholm era, 'Terry from Gloucester' was the man.
'Kingsholm is your house: you do not let anyone into your home and mess with your family'.
That's what Fanolua told the transfixed Gloucester squad. To a man they admitted it left a big impression.
Fanolua was back in Gloucester this week, catching up with Davies and the rest of the Gloucester management and squad.
One good turn deserves another, and in repayment for that impassioned pre-season speech, this week Davies has helped advise Fanolua in his bid to find a coaching job back in England.
After three years as player-coach in France then, Fanolua misses English rugby – and is craving a coaching job in his adopted country.
He has completed his RFU level three coaching badge – the effective pre-requisite for top-flight work – and now he wants to build experience this side of The Channel.
"I love France, it's a great country, different from England and from Gloucester," he admitted, "the mentality is different.
"It's a beautiful country and I can't complain.
"But I feel as though it's time to get back to England, and pursue my coaching career and hopefully move it forward.
"I've got my level three badge, so this is something I really want to focus on now.
"I want to stop playing completely, and focus on the coaching.
"I came back this week to try to put my name out there, just to see what's around.
"Last year I think I left it too late, this is the time of the season where people start looking to fill vacancies, so I'm just hopeful something will come up and we'll be back here in the area.
"I've been player-coaching in France for the last three years.
"This season I started off not playing, then a couple of injuries later I was back in the team.
"I retired years ago, but no one ever really listened to me – and every season since they have just ignored it and convinced me to keep playing to help out!"
It is hard to determine which made the bigger impression: Fanolua on Gloucester, or vice versa.
But it is easy to see how much those nine Kingsholm years mean to big Terry – the piercing look reveals a depth of emotion and loyalty that in a flash explains why new boss Davies asked him to help fire up the Cherry and Whites ahead of this season.
Humbled Fanolua admitted he was honoured to help set the emotional parameters of former Llanelli Scarlets boss Davies' Kingsholm era.
While he would love to coach Gloucester one day in the future, he admits he is not yet ready – but he is fully primed to take the helm somewhere in England, and hopefully for next season.
He continued: "It was an honour to be looked at that way, by the management, especially by Nigel.
"To be given a chance like that was a privilege and honour for me, and I was happy to do it.
"I just want to help these guys get to where they want to be, and if I can help Gloucester in any way, I'll always be there.
"It's a big part of my life, for a long time now.
"I've enjoyed every moment of it, and in many ways it will always feel like my club.
"The staff they've got here now are doing a great job.
"It's great to see that.
"It's exciting to see Gloucester going from strength to strength again, the team are playing good rugby, and credit to the coaching staff.
"In the long-term I would love to be part of a coaching set-up at Gloucester, in the future that would be incredible.
"I would obviously grab a chance like that with two hands.
"But I want to move my career forward, gain more experience and put myself in a position where I would be ready for that down the line in the future."