Sunday 20 May 2018

Leinster will suit Lancaster and allow Leo to concentrate on winning games

Leo Cullen needs to dominate and represent the province now as he did as a player. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Leo Cullen needs to dominate and represent the province now as he did as a player. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Victor Costello

The win against Treviso will suffice for the moment. Being critical, you need to score the four tries in these situations but by the time those bonus points are likely to matter, people will have forgotten this game.

Unfortunately, if the first league game is against a team that have consistently been at the bottom over the past few years, it is likely a coach will see it as another pre-season outing.

Tomorrow's clash with Glasgow will be a tough away assignment and considering how they performed against Connacht last weekend, it is clear that they have hit the ground running.

As Connacht faltered with an abundance of handling errors that proved they were trying to pick up where they left off, Glasgow performed with an edge that was carried over from last season.

The Glasgow game will be a baptism of fire for new 'senior coach' Stuart Lancaster.

Last Monday's announcement was probably two months too late but nevertheless it was welcome.

The critics will ask, 'why is Ireland the new home for ex-England international coaches', with Andy Farrell joining Munster late last season and more focus than ever has been on England's demise in the World Cup last year.

The press conference explaining who fits where in the management team will be a far cry from where each coach settles throughout this season and, in fairness to Lancaster, he's unlikely to eye up Leo Cullen's job as the spotlight is clearly where he is most uncomfortable.

He did spend time in an English set-up with pressure from the press and there's no denying there was a power struggle in the management at the time.

Leinster will suit Lancaster and his unquestionable ability to put structure and foundation into the development of the younger players will allow Cullen to focus on the day job of winning games.

Lancaster will be used to a large player pool and his appointment will mean that the talent in the Academy and upwards will get the requisite professional attention and expedite them into the senior squad.

Leo Cullen has come under increased pressure to perform this year.

A year into the job and you would have to think that things can only improve from what was asked of him last season.

Apart from the day-to-day running of training sessions and monitoring squad availability, Cullen is going to have to take a tougher attitude towards his players and the IRFU.

As a player and captain Leo would expect a lot from those around him and would lead by example, both on and off the pitch. If there was a review done in-house after season one, I would certainly advocate him pushing his players harder, particularly the senior players.

Last season saw some young players come through and by their own standards they can be considered part of the senior set-up.

The IRFU player welfare programme will look after the players but sometimes can be more beneficial to Ireland than to Leinster.

Cullen needs to dominate and represent the province now as a coach in the same way he did as a player and in the press conferences show authority that people will walk with him rather than doubt his ability.


Gregor Townsend is the most technical coach in the league but sometimes he over-complicates the process for his players. Glasgow will be wary of Leinster and playing them away at this time of year suits better than the deep dark winter.

Joey Carbery set the season off with a brilliant performance that will stir David Nucifora into redirecting him to another province. He is yet another young, exciting player that should certainly be kept in Leinster.

With Leo Cullen learning from Stuart Lancaster's vast experience and Lancaster learning what it is that makes a successful Irish province tick, this management deserve more than the nine months given but both head coaches will know more than most that this is a results-driven business.

All eyes are on Scotstoun.

Irish Independent

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