WATCH - Stuart Lancaster explains his new role at Leinster and defends coaching record
STUART LANCASTER says his primary ambition as ‘senior coach’ at Leinster is to restore the three-time champions to their position as the ‘dominant force in European rugby again’.
But the position of the former England coach within the province’s structure remains somewhat clouded after he spoke about taking over from defence coach Kurt McQuilkin, while also having input on the attacking side of the game and a role with the academy.
Leo Cullen remains the head coach and will continue to pick the team and conduct media duties, but the presence of the experienced 46-year-old will certainly test the balance of a young, indigenous coaching team.
Cullen introduced the new man at a press conference at Leinster’s UCD base this afternoon.
The former captain was the one who recruited Lancaster, first contacting him over the course of the last two weeks.
Asked how he saw his new role, Lancaster said: “Mainly to help Leo and, certainly, to help Leinster rugby become a dominant force in Europe again, and go one better.
"It came about less than two weeks ago really, when Leo gave me a ring and said, 'Would you be interested in coming over and having a chat about a potential role.' "Obviously, for me it was a great opportunity to come and have a look and see what was on offer.
"The more we talked, the more it became clear that with Kurt going, there was an opportunity to come in and I think Leo felt that I could offer value in attack and defence, with the experiences I've had.
“From my point of view, I'm more than happy to work underneath Leo because I don't know the club, I don't know the environment, I don't know the relationships and everything. It suits me down to the ground just to get back into coaching again."
Lancaster arrives with a tarnished reputation after his England side crashed out at the pool stages of their home World Cup less than a year ago.
This is the first full-time job he has taken since, although he did some work with NFL franchise Atlanta Falcons and New Zealand NPC side Counties Manukau.
With England, the Yorkshire native was seen mostly as a hands-off manager, more suited to a director of rugby role as his coaches did the majority of on-pitch work.
But he is keen to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in.
"If you're talking about experience in coaching, I've coached about every part of the game. I had a teaching career until I was 30 but I've been coaching now for 16 years,” he said.
"I think there's a perception in England that I probably didn't do any coaching. Andy Farrell clearly led on the defence when I was with England, but I was coaching defence not less than three weeks ago in New Zealand.
“At Counties Manukau, my main remit was to coach defence.
"So, I've got my own philosophy and clearly it's been influenced by people I've worked under as defence coaches, I watched Mike Ford when he was defence coach; I worked with Andy Farrell laterally, I worked with Paul Gustard in Argentina when he came with me.
“So, I think I understand a lot about defence, but equally I've a reasonably broad range and hopefully I can influence some of the attacking stuff as well and also reach down into the academy.
“I've come from a player development background, my role in England was not just as head coach but also as head of elite player development and I'd like to think I can offer Leinster something in that regard as well.”
Lancaster said he has no problem working under a much less experienced boss.
“Perfect, it means I don't have to do any of the media stuff, I don't have to make any of the difficult selection decisions so it's never been about titles for me,” he said.
“I don't mind where I fit within the coaching team, obviously with England I gravitated to the head coaching role and I'm more than happy to help Leo out and pass on what I've learnt; that's certainly my intention.
“It's more for me about the people, if you get the right people working together and there's a common purpose and a common aim, the titles to a certain extent are slightly irrelevant to a certain extent.”
Cullen said he was delighted to have Lancaster on board.
"There's a big attraction there for me in having a candidate like Stuart here, so I'm absolutely delighted that he's decided to join here,” he said.
“We're always looking to be better here in Leinster, we're always trying to improve. It was the same for me as a player here and as I've moved on in coaching - we've still got really ambitious players.
"It's trying to satisfy that level of ambition that they have. We had Graham Henry in here for a short stint this summer, so for Leinster as a club to land someone with the level of experience that Stuart has is a great coup for us as a club.
“We're all very excited about working with him for the rest of the season."