Saturday 19 January 2019

Lancaster cools Tigers talk as Leinster lament Ryan's retirement

Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster
Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

It hasn't been confirmed by the club, but Stuart Lancaster believes Leicester Tigers will appoint Geordan Murphy as their head coach until the end of the season.

The Leinster senior coach is invariably linked with every vacancy that arises in the English Premiership and yesterday he put any talk that he could decamp to Welford Road to bed.

Former Ireland full-back Murphy took temporary charge of the two-time European champions after they dismissed Matt O'Connor following their opening-day loss to Exeter Chiefs.

He has expressed an interest in continuing in the role and Lancaster believes it is Leicester's intention for him to do so.

Asked about the potential vacancy, Lancaster shook his head before saying: "My understanding is that Geordan Murphy has been appointed not just interim coach, he has been appointed the coach for the season."

Leicester are a club on Leinster minds in the wake of Dominic Ryan's premature retirement from rugby which was confirmed on Saturday.


The flanker left his home province for the English club in 2017, but a series of concussions forced him to call time on his career at the age of 28.

Details of Ryan's struggles with the injury have sent shockwaves around Irish rugby.

"It is a terrible shame for him," Lancaster said.

"I only coached him for a year and I actually thought for him given the number of quality back-rows here it was a really good move for him, because he is a quality player.

"It was more like circumstances, the fact he wasn't getting more opportunities here.

"So to go to Leicester seemed, and we actually spoke about it, like a good move and it is a real shame that he has not been able to fulfil his undoubted potential as a player and the opportunities that England would provide him."

Former team-mate Jack Conan echoed his coach's sentiments.

"It is tough to see someone like 'Dippy' (Ryan) have to retire at a young age," the No 8 said.

"I would have spent a lot of years with him here. Before anything else, he is a fantastic bloke and was a great character around this place.

"If you went to everyone, from lads who barely knew him to lads who had played with him for years, they would all speak so highly of him.

"That's a testament to the character he was. It's upsetting to see someone like him having to step away from the game at such a young age in the manner that he did.

"Concussion is a hot topic at the moment within rugby circles.

"I know where we are in Leinster rugby, the medical staff, the physios are so on the ball with regards to the HIA and the return-to-play protocols.

"Sometimes concussions can go unnoticed, not through anyone's fault. These things happen.

"To be fair to the lads here, they're probably the best in Europe and being on the ball for it.

"So I know they'll keep on working to keep us safe, and I think the onus is on players to put their hand up more and be able to say, 'look, I've taken a knock here. I'm not OK here.' And we'll keep growing and working on that aspect and be better at it."


Leinster's primary focus this week is on addressing the factors that led to Saturday's defeat to Scarlets and it looks like Bernard Jackman and the Dragons could be in for a rough evening at the RDS, with Leo Cullen poised to call on the rest of his fit front-line internationals for their first home game of the campaign.

Jack McGrath will miss out on the Saturday-night clash with a knee injury he sustained in training, but the Lion is expected to be back for the Round 6 meeting with Munster.

"It is a shame for Jack because he obviously worked really hard to get into the Ireland team at the end of the tour (to Australia) and he's worked hard on his fitness and his change-up that we've been talking about," Lancaster said.

"So it's only a couple of weeks but yeah, it has just been frustrating for him really.

"But I think when you look at who is in our red box of injured players we're actually not in bad shape at the moment and the good thing is that we can bring some pretty good players back in the equation this weekend."

Irish Independent

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