Sunday 18 March 2018

No excuses in new regime - McQuilkin

Leinster defence coach Kurt McQuilkin (left) with fellow coaching staff members Richie Murphy (skills & kicking), John Fogarty (scrum ), Girvan Dempsey (backs) and Leo Cullen
Leinster defence coach Kurt McQuilkin (left) with fellow coaching staff members Richie Murphy (skills & kicking), John Fogarty (scrum ), Girvan Dempsey (backs) and Leo Cullen

Tom Rooney

Defence coach Kurt McQuilkin has made it clear that Leinster will offer no excuses regardless of what hurdles they hit over the coming months.

The newly-installed coaching ticket under Leo Cullen has already had to contend with the absence of 17 players due to World Cup duty, and the enforced retirement of Kevin McLaughlin earlier this week has compounded matters.

However, according to McQuilkin, such adversity is nothing more than an accepted occupational hazard, and the province plans to act accordingly.

Furthermore, he believes such travails will provide an invaluable lesson to less experienced squad members.

"It's just a case of getting on with it, he explained. "That's our lot, it's nothing new, when you get these World Cup years it's always the case.

"It's great we get so many players involved with the World Cup, but on the other side of the coin, we've just to get our heads down, bums up and get to work.

"We are going to get our noses bloodied along the way, but it's a learning process for these young men, and if they take something away from those bloodied nose games, then it was worth the exercise.

"We sat down, and the bottom line was to get our performances right. If we can get this group of players performing well, then we'll get some results out of this first block of games without our big men involved."

As important as playing with a degree of style can be at a club with Leinster's tradition, the Kiwi pointed out that racking up victories is paramount.

McQuilkin believes that if the players are receptive to Cullen's methods, success will follow.

"Leo has a plan of how we'd like to play, and a template of how we'd like to play," he said.

"We're putting that template in place now and at this stage of the season, with the group of players we have.

"And, when the other guys come back into the scene, they'll assimilate into that template as well and bring a bit extra to the party, but playing under that structure Leo has put in place.

"But if we don't get a win, we're going to learn from that situation and move on.

"Make no bones about it, we're certainly going out there to win games. We know if the players get their processes right, then we'll be as competitive as any side.

"But it's about getting out there, performing and doing our utmost to get a win."

McQuilkin is reprising the role that he enjoyed for three years under Michael Cheika, the highlight of which was the Heineken Cup win in 2009.

He had been hoping for a return to Dublin, having spent the last five seasons coaching in his native New Zealand, but was unsure if the opportunity would materialise.

So, when Cullen offered him his old job back, he couldn't say yes quickly enough. Now back in situ, he expects his charges to stay within the defensive framework he has outlined, and avoid going off script.

"It's about staying in and working within the system. Once someone jumps out of the system, and starts doing their own thing, then you start getting in trouble," he said.

"It's about selling your system to the collective, and getting them to buy into it.

"When the situation arose that I could come back I just about took Leo's arm off. You don't often get a second chance with big clubs like Leinster, so I'm chuffed."

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport