Leinster look to Deans as Schmidt departure looms
Australia coach Robbie Deans is being considered by Leinster as a possible replacement for Joe Schmidt, who is expected to be named as the new Ireland coach next weekend.
Other names on Leinster's list include current forwards coach Jono Gibbes along with Wellington Hurricanes and New Zealand under 20 coach Chris Boyd.
Even ahead of the Lions tour in June, Deans is under serious pressure in Australia, not least from current Reds coach Ewen McKenzie, and it's understood his name has been floating around the European market for the last month.
Leinster's problem, however, is the uncertainty over Deans' future Down Under, and whether or not they will retain him through to the World Cup in 2015. As one of the leading provinces in Europe, Leinster feel they can't afford a vacuum developing after Schmidt moves over to Lansdowne Road, and ideally want a replacement on site when pre-season training starts on July 1.
During his appearance on The Late Late Show on Friday night, Schmidt said talks with the IRFU had been positive and confirmed he is keen to get the job, which he described as "one of the big jobs in rugby".
It is understood that Leinster have had an ongoing list of potential successors for some months, and that Deans was first sounded out by the IRFU in relation to the Performance Director's job which is part of the Plan Ireland strategy.
Gibbes has been part of the Leinster set-up since 2008, though it's unclear whether he has ambitions to be a head coach at this stage in his career. Earlier in the season, Gibbes, scrum coach Greg Feek and skills coach Richie Murphy all increased their responsibilities for a short period, with Schmidt stepping back, to see how it would work out. Before long Schmidt picked up where he had left off, micro-managing the operation.
Chris Boyd (54) is a long-time coach who is currently heading up the Wellington provincial side, the Lions, as well as the New Zealand under 20 side.
Leinster go to Zebre today looking for a bonus-point win to slot in behind Ulster in second place in the Pro12 table.
Ulster's win in Galway on Friday night keeps them in pole position going into the last round in a fortnight when they take on Cardiff in Ravenhill. Leinster will complete their programme of regulation games at the same time, Friday, May 3, at home to the Ospreys. Both Irish sides are through already to the semi-finals but home advantage is still up for grabs.