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Tuesday 24 October 2017

Leinster's maligned former head coach is now running a Super Rugby team

Matt O'Connor Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Matt O'Connor Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Will Slattery

Will Slattery

It has been a quick turnaround for Matt O'Connor.

Last May, the Australian was relieved of his position as Leinster head coach after a tumultuous season that saw the province miss out on the Pro12 playoffs for the first time. O'Connor led Leinster to the league title in his first season in 2013/14 but during last year's campaign fans turned sour on his side after a series of performances that lacked the attacking majesty displayed during back-to-back European Cup wins under Joe Schmidt.

As a result, O'Connor was let go despite having a year remaining on his contract. He opted to return to his home country and was appointed as the Queensland Reds attack coach ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby season.

The Reds have started poorly, with two losses from two and the club have acted swiftly, dumping head coach Richard Graham and announcing that O'Connor and forwards coach Nick Stiles will be co-interim head coaches for the remainder of the season.

O'Connor's promotion continues the trend of former Irish provincial coaches being given high-profile jobs in Australia. Former Munster boss Tony McGahan is currently also a Super Rugby head coach, leading the Melbourne Rebels, while one of O'Connor's predecessors at Leinster, Michael Cheika, is the Australian head coach.

It will be interesting to see if O'Connor's Reds team can implement his attacking ideas more successfully than his Leinster squad did.

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