Saturday 20 January 2018

Sexton: 'Special' Cullen can give Leinster lift-off

Johnny Sexton praised the ‘honesty’ of new Leinster head coach Leo Cullen INPHO
Johnny Sexton praised the ‘honesty’ of new Leinster head coach Leo Cullen INPHO
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Johnny Sexton has hailed Leinster's new coach Leo Cullen as their very own special one after the former captain was confirmed as the province's head coach on a two-year deal.

Although he is a provincial legend who lifted the European Cup three times as a player, there are question marks over Cullen's readiness for the job so soon after retiring but the returning Ireland out-half believes Leinster have appointed the right man.

"Special people do special things and he's been an outstanding leader for Leinster," Sexton said.

"He was always the voice that people went to in the set-up when I was there. It was always Joe (Schmidt)'s voice first and foremost and then not too far behind was Leo's and, at times, Leo was able to tell Joe how he saw things and Joe took it on board.

"He's got great experience having worked with three really good coaches and having gone to Leicester."

Sexton suggested that Leinster may yet look outside the province for a backs coach to join the ticket confirmed yesterday as Kurt McQuilkin extended his stay by signing a two-year deal.

"Maybe someone new might come in with him to keep things fresh. But, I'm not really sure how things will go," he said as he praised Cullen's "honesty".

"That's what you want from your coach. Sometimes it's hard to take, but you want someone who gives it to you straight up.

"I've had coaches before where they tell you you're doing great, but then drop you in the very same conversation and you're left wondering.

"I'd rather a coach just said to me, 'This is how it is, this is what you need to improve on. If you go and do it, you are going to be picked'. I think he'll bring that to the environment.

"Discipline would be an important thing... and he's a clever guy. Combine all those things and, having worked with Joe, he is very similar to Joe in that regard."

Irish Independent

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