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Thursday 8 December 2016

Shane Jennings: Leinster players have to take some responsibility

Time has arrived for Blues players to take some ownership

Shane Jennings
Shane Jennings

Former Leinster flanker Shane Jennings has questioned the vision of the Leinster Professional Games Board for the way in which Leo Cullen has been offered the role as head coach.

"Listen, the powers-that-be made that decision and people will say whether it will be right or wrong," he said.

"Personally, in the year that it was, it may not have been the best decision, not having a replacement (for Matt O'Connor).

"If they had a replacement of a guy with the standard and credentials that Leo and the rest of the staff could learn off and could drive the place forward, then it was the right call.

"Not having done that, it doesn't seem like the best call," he said.

COMBATIVE

The combative Jennings pointed his finger at Leinster's muddied relationship with the IRFU as an area that needs revamping.

Most of all, he turned his thunder on the players.

"Players play the game and players have to take ownership and responsibility of what they want to be.

"This idea of reflective glory is hard to manage. Players stamp the identity of a place. They form the culture. It is up to all those players, not just the young guys."

Presuming Cullen accepts the position, Jennings is a firm advocate of his long-time team-mate as a long-term solution.

"I just hope it goes well because there is no person who would care more and give more to the place."

Where Michael Cheika and Joe Schmidt ruled with authority, Matt O'Connor took a more easy going stance.

Jennings would prefer to see a move away from the kid gloves and a return to the iron fist.

"School teachers are good rugby coaches for a reason," he said.

"As much as players don't like to admit it, they need to pull in the reins, they need to have structure and they need to take ownership."

Undoubtedly, Cullen will have to take a wait-and-pray approach to the state of Leinster's World Cup contingent by the time The Champions Cup comes around.

The gamble on Cullen could work out, according to Jennings, "because he knows the place inside-out".

"He knows the characters that are associated with the club and he understands the dynamic with the Union. He's a very strong character as well, you know.

"People see Leo when he doesn't talk that much and might think he doesn't have a lot to say. But when he speaks it's very articulate, there's thought behind it, and it's usually the right thing as well.

"He'll have an idea of where Leinster want to go and how to get there.

"Having that experience, knowing what players have done well in the past, knowing where we haven't will be of huge asset and value to him."

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