BOURNEMOUTH head coach Will Croker expressed his gratitude to coach Jo Burns for stepping back into first-team rugby following a near three-year absence.

Burns, who now oversees Lions’ second XV, was drafted in for their 24-19 triumph over Ivybridge earlier this month.

The versatile forward’s previous first-team start came against Old Redcliffians in April 2015.

Asked how the selection had come about, Croker told the Daily Echo: “Jo is our second-team coach and does an incredible job with them.

“He is also our head of analysis and is the tech guy who does the best work in terms of making sure the games are all clipped up.

“But he is also a very talented rugby player – he has put the club before his own priorities. He realises he is in his 30s now and probably hasn’t got a lot of first-team rugby ahead of him.

“He has regularly said when we have discussed it previously ‘don’t pick me, I am not the future. I will stick with the seconds and you can pick someone else’.

“But because it was a rearranged fixture against Ivybridge, Jack Hennings and Mike Treolar were both away skiing. We also had a couple of other guys unavailable through work commitments, so it seemed like the right thing to ask him to do a job for us.

“He did a really good job. It was a step up from what he had been playing but I think he thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Burns was one of a number of Bournemouth players who featured at Twickenham in 2010.

He played and touched down during Dorset & Wilts’s history-making 36-26 win over Leicestershire in the County Championship Shield final.

“Jo has played around 150 games for the first team and played at Twickenham for Dorset. He is a good player and knows his stuff,” added Croker.

“He can play in the front row or second row. He is a good guy to have about and now, with his time being a coach, he understands the structure and game plan we are trying to play.

“Whether it is something we will persist with moving forward or not is something we will decide at selection.”