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O'Connor lured to Leinster by prospect of greater control – Easterby


Leinster team manager Guy Easterby. Picture: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Leinster team manager Guy Easterby. Picture: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Leinster team manager Guy Easterby. Picture: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

INCOMING Leinster coach Matt O'Connor may have based his decision to move from Leicester Tigers to Leinster on the greater control he will have over the playing policy of the club.

"Matt would see it as a chance for him to run a ship they way that he wants to run it," said Leinster manager Guy Easterby.

While O'Connor is the main man in terms of coaching expertise at the English Premiership club, Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill has the final say on the buck-stops-here decisions.

"If there is a 50-50 call to be made, I presume at Leicester Richard Cockerill makes that call," continued Easterby.

"There is a difference there in terms of there is a Director of Rugby.

"As much as Matt runs a lot of the rugby programme there and the direction in which the team plays, Cockerill is obviously the face of it and he would do most of the media.

"As always, with a head coach and a Director of Rugby, there may be some differing of opinion. It there is a decision to be made at the end of the day, the Director of Rugby makes the decision not the head coach.



"I guess that, for him, would be a step up in terms of his responsibilities. I can understand that would be a coach's natural ambition to be the guy that actually calls the shots."

The element of control may just have swayed O'Connor in that Leinster play the game closer to the style of the ACT Brumbies where his ethos was developed.

"I know that he had a contract on the table from Leicester," said Easterby.

"We had a few names of guys we highlighted as fitting into what we were looking for. It was just a matter then of seeing who was available and who we wanted to talk to.

"We got a little bit of luck with the timing because you are not guaranteed that someone was going to be out of contract. That was a real positive for us."

The assistant coaches Jono Gibbes (forwards), Richie Murphy (skills and kicking) and Greg Feek (scrum) have all been tied into contract to the end of the season 2013/2014. At that point, O'Connor will be in a decent position to judge whether all or any will continue.

Surely, there can be no more difficult taskmaster than Joe Schmidt. These are three industrious coaches. "They have all done a fantastic job in helping to get Leinster to where it is," said Easterby.

"He (O'Connor) is a clever guy and he understands the impact they have had on the place as well."

There were many and varied sources of reference at Leicester. Geordan Murphy is the club captain in his last season with an interest in moving into the coaching role.



Leinster captain Leo Cullen and Shane Jennings transformed their careers with the Tigers. Former Leinster full-back/ wing Niall Morris is there now.

Easterby also knows one or two coaches who have worked with O'Connor. It all added up to a glowing report on the Australian. Easterby added: "It is amazing when you dig down how quickly you unearth people who you think, 'yeah, he'd know a bit about him'. You get a good overall picture then. To get that sort of rounded view, we are lucky with our links with Leicester that we were able to sound out quite a lot of people.

"Leicester is a well-run club. I think that is a well-known fact. Anyone who survives there for any amount of time is doing a pretty good job simply because of the way the club is."