Wednesday 22 May 2019

Matt O’Connor: Leinster fans need to get real

Matt O'Connor and Leo Cullen during last season
Matt O'Connor and Leo Cullen during last season
Leinster coach Leo Cullen
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Matt O’Connor has given his backing to Leo Cullen to succeed him as head coach of Leinster.

Following a poor Pro12 campaign, O’Connor was sacked – despite having another year left to run on his contract – and he believes that Cullen is the right man to take over from him.

Cullen, currently the forwards coach, has been appointed as head coach on an interim basis as the province cast their net wide in their hunt for a successor to O’Connor, but the Australian insisted that they should look closer to home.

“There’s nobody who knows more about Leinster rugby than Leo Cullen. From my perspective, I certainly wish him all the best,” O’Connor said on RTE radio last night.

“Is it perfect timing? No it’s not but I think if you weigh up all the pros and cons, there wouldn’t be too many better blokes to do the job.”

O’Connor maintained that he didn’t have any regrets about his two-year tenure in charge but admitted that he was disappointed at the level of criticism that was aimed at him.

“We spoke a lot about trying to ignore the noise and distractions from the outside and focus on the positives inside and we managed that but maybe the noise got a little bit too loud towards the end,” he conceded.

“You can’t win every year. That’s the reality of it. No-one wins every year and I think the Leinster fans, as fantastic as they have been, need to have a little bit more clarity in relation to what is acceptable and what is realistic.”

O’Connor also admitted that strained tensions with the IRFU over player availability created “a lack of continuity” but he acknowledged that it was a part of the job that he signed up for.

“We lost significant leaders out of the back-room as we did out of the changing-room,” he added.

“There was always going to be a transitional period for Leinster and I thought by and large we managed that.”

Read more: Matt O'Connor on IRFU: You didn’t get the access to the players that you would have liked

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