STEVE Smith says it would have been a “crying shame” if Joe Cain had been lost to rugby after his recent injury nightmare.
The Burton RFC director of rugby reached out to the young Leicester Tigers lock after a persistent knee problem forced him to retire at the age of just 21 last week.
Former John Taylor High School pupil Cain has been offered a part-time coaching role at Peel Croft, and Smith believes both parties will benefit from the alliance.
“I’ve known Joe for a long time, since I was coaching at Nottingham Rugby Club and he spent some time on loan there from Leicester,” he said.
“I knew about his problems over the last few years, and it’s a massive blow for Joe, as he had real quality.
“He had probably known he had got issues in his knee over the last couple of years, and a couple of freak injuries have led to this position.
“Now we’re giving him the opportunity to do something new with his career.
“This is a great relationship for the club and shows Joe has interest in supporting a local community club whilst gaining experience.”
Cain has started studying for his coaches badges, and will combine work at Peel Croft with community work and work in local schools.
Smith said: “He’s going to come in as and when he can, to fit in with his other commitments.
“He will be working with (coaches) Nick Adams and Tom Barlow.
“We’ve briefly spoken about him working with the forwards, alongside Nick.
“He’s got a lot of experience playing at second row or front row for Leicester and can hopeful pass on some of the skill sets he’s got – maybe in terms of the line-out.
“It’s great having someone like Joe getting involved.”
Cain had an operation in January and has had fluid drained from his knee weekly in an attempt to cure his problem.
But after finding out his playing career was over, he immediately focused on a new chapter.
Said Smith: “It was good that he was prepared to get back into rugby and looked to support the community game.
“He’s looking at his options now and he’s clearly willing to get involved.
“He’s a very, very nice lad and deserves to be working.
“It would be a crying shame if he was lost to the game.”