HARVEY Biljon has taken over as the new head coach of struggling Championship side Jersey after four and a half successful years at the Cornish Pirates where he ended his tenure as assistant coach, writes Dick Straughan.
Recruited in the summer of 2009 by then High Performance Manager Chris Stirling, the former London Wasps scrum-half has forged a strong reputation as a coach first at Blackheath and then in Cornwall.
He described the chance to take over the reins at Jersey as "a little bit unexpected but an offer I could not turn down," and flew out to the Channel Islands on Sunday before beginning work at St Peter the following day.
The 36 year-old will work alongside forwards coach Steve Boden and will have two British & Irish Cup ties against Ulster Ravens and Ayr before beginning the serious work of securing the Islanders' Greene King Championship status.
Biljon (pictured) said: "It was the right time for me to move on and a natural progression really to take over as head coach. I thought about it a lot and talked it through with my family and we will be sad to leave Cornwall and the Cornish Pirates."
"The Pirates have been a massive influence on me and I will take away some fantastic memories of my time at the club. Obviously the British & Irish Cup win and two Championship finals stand out, but there were other great times at training and review sessions which will be remembered fondly."
He added: "There were also some very rewarding games such as beating Plymouth when I first came to the club and then beating Nottingham in the mud."
Biljon will be helped in settling into his new role by the number of former Cornish Pirates now plying their trade at St.Peter. Grant Pointer, Drew Locke, Aaron Penberthy, Ben Maidment, Joe Buckle and Tom Cooper have all benefited from his coaching prior to moving to the Channel Islands last summer.
Biljon said: "I do know a few players there but there are challenges within the squad and during the first week or so I expect to spend a lot of time sitting down with the players and looking at their current structures and reviews."
Steve Boden remains in charge of Jersey for their Championship clash at home to London Welsh on Saturday whilst for Biljon his final involvement with the Cornish Pirates was in their Boxing Day win over Plymouth Albion.
Jersey chairman Bill Dempsey commented: "Some high-calibre rugby CVs have been considered, but we are convinced we have found the right man for the job, and are grateful that Cornish Pirates have agreed to release Harvey from his contract so that he can take charge almost immediately."