Friday 21 October 2016

Still no closer to a new Leinster boss

Timing of Matt O'Connor's could be costly for the Blues

Leo Cullen
Leo Cullen
leo cullen

Leinster Rugby is in disarray in the aftermath of the sacking of Matt O’Connor.

The decision made by the Professional Games Board to make a swift and ruthless change could still come back to haunt them.

Already, scrum coach Marco Caputo has left the club and former Ireland centre Kurt McQuilkin has been confirmed on a three-month, stop-gap contract with primary responsibility for defence.

Apparently, John Fogarty will move from his current role as Elite Player Development Officer to replace Caputo when the former Ireland ‘A’ hooker returns from the U20 World Cup, where he is overseeing scrum duties under Nigel Carolan.

It is thought interim head coach Leo Cullen is not keen on being the long-term solution in what is the embryonic stage of his post-playing career. The transition from captain-to-coach has been a steep learning curve. 

Academy Manager Girvan Dempsey, favouring an exciting brand of rugby as coach to Leinster As in the British & Irish Cup last season, is respected for his rugby intellect.

As a player, the Irish full-back made the very best of the physical gifts he was given with an enduring dedication to the game in an 82-cap international career.

The jump from Academy Manager to head coach is even more unrealistic for Dempsey than Cullen, though both of them are highly thought of and serious candidates for the post when the time is right.            

Skills and Kicking coach Richie Murphy should not be underestimated.

He is a man in demand. The former fly-half has a foot in Leinster and Ireland camps.

The mere fact Joe Schmidt wanted to take him to Ireland and was willing to accept shared time speaks volumes for Murphy.

He will be at the Rugby World Cup until Ireland’s involvement there is over.

Effectively, Leinster is on the hunt for a head coach, who will have to take control of a province in which the forwards coach has one year of experience, the scrum coach will enter into his first full-time senior role and the most experienced assistant coach will not be there until after the World Cup.   

God knows what state the Irish internationals will be in physically and emotionally after the intensity of preparing for and playing at RWC.

There also has been little or no movement on the identity of Leinster’s next coach.

Former Australia coach Robbie Deans and Otago Highlanders backs coach Tony Brown have already ruled themselves out of the race.

Jono Gibbes has just signed a three-year contract extension at Clermont-Auvergne.

Schmidt’s protégé Alex King, the former England out-half, is tightly bound to Northampton Saints.

A cursory glance of O’Connor’s difficulties with the IRFU hierarchy and the resurfacing of the Player Welfare issues are not exactly an attraction for the incoming man.

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