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‘Winning trophies is where Leinster expect to be’ – Andrew Goodman


Leinster's head coach Leo Cullen with their cacks coach Andrew Goodman. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Leinster's head coach Leo Cullen with their cacks coach Andrew Goodman. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Leinster's head coach Leo Cullen with their cacks coach Andrew Goodman. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

If Andrew Goodman wanted to test his convictions about his decision to return to Dublin after an eight-year stint back home in New Zealand, he had plenty of time to do it during a long-haul flight via Los Angeles with his three and five-year-old kids.

Now firmly ensconced in the province’s UCD base, the former school teacher’s belief has not been shaken.

After coaching his native Tasman in the National Provincial Championships and working with the market-leading Crusaders in Super Rugby, he was ready when the call came from his old mate Leo Cullen who knew Felipe Contepomi was moving back to Argentina.

And, while he had to convince his wife Nina that it was the right option for their young family, he knew it was the right call.

“It was a mission, a patience test,” he said of those discussions.

“I have two young lads, three and five and a pregnant wife so it was a big flight, and a big decision to leave the Crusaders. It was one I had to think over for a long time.

“Leo was pretty persistent on the phone, but I let the Crusaders know straight away on the first phone call, and they were very supportive and kind of understood the reasons why I would seriously consider coming back to here,” said Goodman.

“At the stage I’m in in my coaching career, having been involved with Tasman and the Crusaders and the way they play, I saw it as an opportunity, selfishly, for me to come over here and grow as a coach as well, to learn off some amazing coaches.

“I think Stu (Lancaster) has done fantastic things for the club so I was really interested to see the way he operates and runs the Leinster programme. I got on well with Leo when I was here and was excited to see that Seánie (O’Brien) was coming back as well, so there was lots of positives.

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“The family was at an age where it was a good time. My eldest has started school over here, so I think with a young family it was a good time to travel and experience a new challenge for myself, but also grow for myself. I see this as enhancing me as a coach going forward.

“Nina was over here last time with me last time as well. she had a good experience.

“She has got good friends here as well. A bit different for us this time as we have two kids with one on the way. We were a social couple first time. Now we are seeing different parts, parks, of Dublin this time!”

Goodman has stayed in touch with many of his former team-mates, while he is now coaching a group of senior players who were young pups when he was marshalling the midfield.

He’s watched Leinster closely, no more than when the Crusaders and the Irish province worked together during lockdown.

And he believes there is plenty of room for improvement after last season’s end of year disappointment.

“We have had a good chat around this as a coaching group, and there are different little things to make sure we stay a steady ahead,” he said. “Because looking over the URC and seeing the South Africans coming and getting stronger from what they were last year.

“They are a different beast in the way they defend and the way they apply pressure.

“So, just growing our game; we play and amazing high-tempo rugby game but if we, for whatever reason on the day, the way teams are defending, just adapting our game to play different styles is going to be a big opening for us.

“That’s going to be a big one for us, being the master of styles of rugby.

“There’s differences (between Leinster and Crusaders) in the way the week runs and how the trainings are run, which has been refreshing for me to come over here and see the similarities and differences, the squad depth and competitiveness of both setups.

“The players’ ability to come in here and hold each other accountable to a high standard would be another one that is really common in both setups and the last one would be the expectations over where each team would be at the end of the year.

“It’s well-known that trophies and big games is where the club expects to be,” he added.

Playing at Leinster was a special time for Goodman who never played Super Rugby during his career.

“Although we lost, playing at the Aviva in my first Heineken Cup game in front of almost 55,000 people against Clermont. An amazing experience for me,” he recalled.

“When I came over I had just been playing NPC, the biggest crowd I would have played in front of would have been maybe 12,000-14,000, and to come over here into that kind of environment and play alongside Drico (Brian O’Driscoll) and Johnny (Sexton) was something I had wanted to do, test myself at that next level.

“Although I was only here for two years and available for one through injury I got some amazing experiences,” he added.

“Playing Munster at Thomond Park, my parents had flown over from New Zealand when Drico got a wee try at the end … those kind of games were memories I’ll cherish forever.”

Now, he’s back and he’s determined to make the most of the opportunity.

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