Sunday 25 August 2019

Hickie tells Leinster to think outside box in search for new coach

Former Leinster and Ireland wing Denis Hickie
Former Leinster and Ireland wing Denis Hickie
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Former Ireland international Denis Hickie has encouraged Leinster to stick to their tried and tested formula when appointing a new head coach.

With big names like Robbie Deans and Jake White previously linked with the post, Hickie is adamant that his former side must "continue to think outside the box" when replacing Matt O'Connor.

"If you look at what has worked for Leinster in the past and what's been successful, it hasn't taken Leinster to have a really big-name coach, a guy who was coach of a national side," Hickie insisted. "A guy who was head coach of another fantastic team - that's not what has actually worked for Leinster.

"If you look at Michael Cheika, coaching a club side in Australia. Look at Joe Schmidt - he was an assistant coach in France, even Matt Williams.

"The guys who have made the biggest impact in Leinster at various stages have been coaches who have taken a different kind of approach and haven't necessarily been the big names.

"I don't think Leinster need an old hand who is going to steady the ship. I don't think that really works for Leinster and even Matt O'Connor, he was an assistant coach.

"You can argue about how to define success but by a lot of measures he did have a successful tenure. Maybe not enough.

"Leinster have shown an ability to get somebody a little bit outside of the box and that has worked for them," he added.

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Leo Cullen was backed by O'Connor to take over the reins and his former team-mate, Hickie doesn't see any issue with him being appointed.

However, Ireland's second all-time highest try scorer (29), suggested that regardless of who it is that takes the job, he will be under the same kind of pressure O'Connor faced when he took over.

"I think any coach, if they don't have the results that the board of management have set for them, they run the risk of losing their job and any coach will know the standards are very high here," said Hickie.

"Like any employee, they will agree to the objectives at the start of the year and if you don't meet the objectives you're at the mercy of your employer.

"I don't think any coach is going to look at Leinster and think 'they got rid of their coach two years into a three-year plan, it's a bit risky'.

"The expectations for anyone coming in would be high. I don't think it's unreasonable for people to have expected for Leinster to get to the cup semi-finals and get to the play-offs domestically given the resources at their disposal. I don't think that's an unreasonable or unrealistic expectation."

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