Monday 23 October 2017

Shane Horgan dismisses suggestion that Leinster coaching contract impasse led to semi-final failure

Horgan: “The real concern I would have is what went on at half-time and what didn’t following the sending-off of the Scarlets wing Steff Evans.
Horgan: “The real concern I would have is what went on at half-time and what didn’t following the sending-off of the Scarlets wing Steff Evans." Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Shane Horgan has brushed aside any suggestions that the ongoing Leinster coaching contract impasse contributed to their Guinness PRO12 semi-final flop, instead concentrating on the lack of clarity from the coaches during the game itself.

Despite Stuart Lancaster's enthusiasm last February at the prospect of re-signing with the province, as well as similar intentions from his fellow assistants, there has still been no public clarification on the coaching ticket's future.

Also, there remains doubt in some quarters as to who is actually in charge of the overall direction of operations on the field after Leinster flopped badly in both their knockout semi-finals, despite impressive charges towards the last four during the qualification stages.

"Maybe you and I are not sure about defined roles," saidHorgan, analyst for Sky's coverage of the PRO12 championship run-in, "although they could certainly be defined within house but we may not know what they are.

"The real concern I would have is what went on at half-time and what didn't following the sending-off of the Scarlets wing Steff Evans.

"It had been pretty clear that although there was some success with the game Leinster were playing in attack initially perhaps in the first-half, after everything changed, Leinster were persisting after that in trying to get around them.

"Instead, they could have played the game a lot simpler. Their ball-carrying game should have been more effective.

"They needed to put an extra man in rucks because even with a man down the ball was being turned over and slowed down.

"Just go around the corner until they run out of numbers.

"They had James Davies out on the wing but he was focused on coming in to stop ball going wide.

"If Leinster could detach him as a last defender, he would have shot in and a more simple ball out wide would have been more effective than what Leinster were doing.

"So those concerns were not identified early enough. And it was very difficult because the skill level was so poor, dropping balls and knock-ons, no accuracy at ruck-time."

Regardless of whether those in charge at Leinster HQ find an inkwell to allow the coaching staff to affix their John Hancock and secure their future, Horgan feels it will be a difficult summer for all to absorb as they reflect upon their dismal dénouement.

"It's just extremely disappointing," he said. "Because we had seen a lot of progress during the year and there appeared to be, even after defeat in Lyon against Clermont, many signs of positivity. We thought things were moving in the right way.

"It is disappointing when it came to the really important business end of knockout rugby, against a team they have beaten many times, they didn't deliver any performance.

"One of the worst of the season unfortunately and for players and coaches, it makes for an uncomfortable couple of months."

“The British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand starts on 3rd June, exclusively on Sky Sports. It is part of the biggest ever summer of sport on Sky Sports, which also includes the ICC Champion’s Trophy, The Open, F1 and exclusive action from the GAA All-Ireland Senior Championship.”

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