CHRIS STIRLING has returned to the Cornish Pirates as their director of rugby on a three-year deal.

The Kiwi, who was the club’s high performance manager between 2009 and 2012, arrives from Championship rivals Yorkshire Carnegie.

Stirling helped the Pirates become the first  winners of the British & Irish Cup in 2010 and also led them to the 2011 RFU Championship final against Worcester Warriors.

He returned to his homeland in 2012 to take up a role as high performance talent identification manager for the New Zealand RFU. He later became general manager high performance at the Hurricanes before his move to Yorkshire Carnegie.

Pirates’ Dicky Evans said: “When it became clear that Chris would become available the coaches and myself agreed that, as a matter of priority, we should look at Chris to become our new director of rugby – a position we have been looking at for some time.

“As many of our supporters know, when Chris was with us before we enjoyed a brilliant period of success, so he now returns to the Pirates with unfinished business.

“We now have the opportunity to play at our new stadium within a couple of years and consequently Chris is on board to participate in a three-year programme to hopefully win our league and who knows where that will take us. It will take an immense amount of effort and planning to get into that position we all have wanted for many years, to play for a place in the Premiership.

“Our new stadium will be fully equipped to help support our financial requirements, the actual developments of which are in the final planning stage. It’s a huge ask for all of us to get this right but we believe that we are taking the right approach with our on-field planning by employing such a well-respected individual as Chris Stirling.”

Stirling said: “My prior time in Cornwall, with the Cornish Pirates, was a key factor in both my coaching and personal development, and it is with great excitement that I return to the Mennaye to rekindle my working relationship with Gavin, Alan and all involved at the Pirates.

“All involved in the rugby programme have achieved outstanding results over the last period and the future is extremely exciting. As director of rugby my objective is to assist with taking the Cornish Pirates to the next level of performance.”

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