Conor O’Shea rejects claims of an approach to become England assistant manager
CONOR O'SHEA, Harlequins' director of rugby, has dismissed reports that he has been lined up to take on a role at Twickenham assisting Stuart Lancaster on player development.
O’Shea has also been recently linked to a job in Ireland where head coach Declan Kidney is expected to either resign or be moved aside. O’Shea said he had no intention of walking out on his Harlequins contract which runs to the end of the 2013-14 season.
“I haven’t a clue where the RFU story might have come from as there has been absolutely no contact by them with me,” said O’Shea, taking a break from preparing his side for the important Aviva Premiership match against Gloucester at Kingsholm this evening.
“The Ireland connection had a certain logic to it given my background and, although it’s very flattering to be associated with such jobs, I am more than happy at Harlequins.
“The job here is far from finished. The next nine days, with the game at Gloucester followed by the home Heineken Cup quarter-final against Munster, is an unbelievably exciting time for the club.
"We won the LV Cup last week with a young side, are currently in a Premiership play-off position and have never managed to get to a Heineken Cup semi-final.
"These are great days for the club and I’m committed to Harlequins. There is a whole lot going on and I intend to be very much part of it.”
O’Shea has an impressive CV. The former Ireland fullback has already worked for the RFU on player development and has also spent time at the English Institute for Sport as national director.
He was brought in at Harlequins to restore spirits in the wake of the Bloodgate scandal of 2009, replacing former director of rugby Dean Richards, who was banned for three years for his part in the administering of a fake blood capsule.
If there were doubts as to the club’s future, and certainly its reputation, then O’Shea has managed to effect a remarkable makeover. Ironically, Harlequins line up against another Irish province, Munster this time rather than Leinster of that day, as they tilt for a place in the last four of Europe.
O’Shea took up his current role in March 2010 and has brought silverware to the club in each season, with the Amlin Challenge Cup, the Premiership and the LV Cup all sitting in the Harlequins trophy cabinet.
O’Shea is all too aware of how quickly the pendulum can swing and is mindful that his team have had a dip in fortunes of late, losing to Saracens and Exeter in recent weeks to slip to third in the table, three points behind Leicester, in second, who fill one of the two home semi-final slots with four league games left. Gloucester are fifth in the Premiership and are tilting for one of those play-offs spots.
“Sport is so fickle and the last emotion is the one you always carry with you so there is disappointment in camp at how we performed against Saracens last weekend,” O’Shea said.
“Yet seven days earlier we were celebrating lifting the LV Cup. You’ve got to stay on an even keel. We know that the Premiership will not be won or lost against Gloucester, but equally we know that we need a performance.
"That’s what our focus is. We want to see the vibrancy, enthusiasm and physicality that is our stock-in-trade. If we manage that, then things will look after themselves.”
Quins have been obliged to shuffle their resources for the trip to Kingsholm. They have only had a five-day turnaround since the defeat at Allianz Park.
That clubs are put under such duress at this time of the season reflects poorly on the Premiership. O’Shea had already decided to rest Chris Robshaw after his exertions with England.
“Given the position Chris plays and the nature of the way he approaches the job, you simply cannot go at it week after week.
“What happens in the Premiership is completely in our control if we keep picking up points. Reintegrating players after the Six Nations is never a straightforward process.
"But we have a great group of players here at Harlequins. I have absolute confidence in them to get the job done. These are exciting times.”