Ireland Under-20s head coach Noel McNamara has been sent on a three-month placement with Kiwi outfit North Harbour as part of an IRFU initiative to take coaches "out of their comfort zone" and aid their development. 

He's one of several coaches being encouraged to feed off the expertise and methods used in other camps to gain greater experience and insight. 

Ulster defence coach Jared Payne joined the Ireland team on their tour to Australia in the summer as part of the same drive, while Ronan O’Gara, Girvan Dempsey and Felix Jones spent time within the Irish set-up on last year's trip to the USA and Japan.

McNamara will spend three months with North Harbour - who compete in the Mitre10 Cup - under the tutelage of Tom Coventry, who will become assistant coach at Super Rugby club Auckland Blues next season. 

Once he has completed the Mitre10 Cup season he will return to Ireland to continue in his dual role with the U20s and Leinster’s development squad.

"The aim of the CPD [continuing professional development] programme is to expose our best up and coming Irish coaches to other rugby models and to take them out of their comfort zone of coaching within the Irish system," said IRFU High Performance Director David Nucifora.   

"In Noel’s case the experience he will gain from coaching in such a competitive tournament is invaluable especially considering the calibre of those in the North Harbour coaching group led by Tom Coventry, who has Super Rugby coaching experience with the Chiefs and is due to link up with the Blues in the new year."