Sunday 21 January 2018

Lancaster in to boost blues

Ex-England coach feels Leinster can dominate in Europe again

Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster during training at UCD in Belfield, Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster during training at UCD in Belfield, Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Leinster's new senior coach Stuart Lancaster and Donald Trump could not be more different than summer and winter.

In the same way, Trump claims to want to 'make America great again,' the former England coach wants to make Leinster great once again.

It was less than five weeks ago when Leo Cullen reached out to Lancaster in the same way he contacted Graham Henry.

While the former All Black coach could only commit to a review and short stay, Lancaster has signed on to the end of the season with one goal.

The 46-year-old will take over from the departed Kurt McQuilkin as defence coach with the important add-on as a senior figure to whom the inexperienced coaches can turn to for his experience.

He wants "to help Leinster rugby become a dominant force in Europe again, and go one better" in the PRO12 League.

The decision of Cullen to look for outside assistance points to the absence of ego in an inexperienced coach, who, like Lancaster, talks regularly about putting the team first.

Encouragingly, Lancaster doesn't view Leinster as "very far at all" away from making an impact in Europe.

"Obviously, it is a very difficult competition to win. I know a lot about the English Premiership and I know a lot about Saracens, for example.

"I know a lot of the fundamentals that underpin that club.

"Leinster have got all the foundations in place. Why not?

"I have to appreciate how the players sometimes have to work between club and country. That is something I need to understand better.

"Clearly, when those European games come around, Leinster should have their best team on the field.

"That is not to say the PRO12 is not a target.

"Having got to the final only to lose, I'm sure the burning desire is to win it this year."

The life of a rugby coach can sometimes resemble that of an actor in that when one starring role ends, there can be trepidation about where the next one will come from.

"I don't think it is a secret that I was interested in coaching in the southern hemisphere. That didn't work out for whatever reason," he shared.

"I am not a guy who can sit around waiting for the phone to ring."

But, when it did ring? "I didn't actual recognise the dialling tone (code)," he said.

"Leo came on. We had a real good chat. He said: 'Do you fancy coming over?' I went 'yeah alright, I'll come over this weekend.'

"That was about five weekends ago now."

However, the decision of Lancaster to commute from Leeds rather than move 'lock, and stock' could come back to bite him.

"I don't have to relocate my family to anywhere. I can jump on a plane at Leeds-Bradford and I will be here in 45 minutes," he reasoned.

"That is perfect for me."

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