Wednesday 22 November 2017

Brian O'Driscoll criticises Leinster fringe players following Matt O'Connor departure

Matt O’Connor
Matt O’Connor Newsdesk Newsdesk

Three-time Heineken Cup winner Brian O'Driscoll believes that Leinster's second tier players did not deliver for Matt O'Connor this season.

The majority of Leinster's poor results this season came when the internationals were away in camp and unlike in the past, Leinster were unable to pick up points when their numbers were depleted.

Matt O'Connor criticised the IRFU player welfare policy during the Six Nations prompting Joe Schmidt and David Nucifora to claim that Leinster's was down to poor performances and not anything in their control.

O'Driscoll admitted that the current squad is not as strong as the province's Heineken Cup winning teams of the past.

"I don't think in the current crop that we have the same calibre of player that we had three years ago," he told Off The Ball on Newstalk.

"I think people like Gordon D'Arcy, you'll see in the next couple of years how he is missed. Isa is coming back having not played in a couple of years.

"Leo, who was just awkward to play against and we had people like Nathan Hines and Brad Thorn. These were real quality players and smart at what they were doing.

"I don't know if that calibre of players exists at the moment."

"I think those players have a responsibility when the national team is in camp to step up to the plate and continue the form through and that was the strength of Leinster in seasons gone by.

"This year, that quality has not been good enough."

O'Driscoll was a big admirer of O'Connor but felt he didn't have the bad cop side to his managerial skills.

"I had such a brilliant night with him at Geordan Murphy's wedding last year where he literally would have lads in stitches. Maybe to a degree that was his fall down in that he doesn't probably have an awful lot of badness in him and his way of telling someone off might be from taking the piss out of them and sometimes the point can be lost a little bit in that way," he added.

"Matt O'Connor and Richard Cockerill in Leicester, where he came from, they played 'good cop, bad cop' and technically Matt's a very good coach, but I just don't know whether that lambasting part is in his personality and in the end that could have been his fall-down."

On O'Connor's replacement: "I think that person has to have a lot of self-confidence and understanding in their methodology on how they want the game to be played because that's half the battle."

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