Cullen hopeful Lancaster will stay at Leinster

Cullen hopeful Lancaster will stay at Leinster
Stuart Lancaster

Leo Cullen is “hopeful” that Stuart Lancaster will still be part of his coaching staff at Leinster next season.

Lancaster has rebooted his reputation since arriving at the province in the wake of a traumatic World Cup as England head coach, commuting to Dublin from his home in Leeds and putting his stamp on the province's play.

A hands-on coach who has responsibilities in attack and defence, Lancaster has been linked with numerous other roles since starting at Leinster in September of 2016. Possible posts with Saturday's Champions Cup opponents Bath and Ireland are just the latest.

"He's telling me he is very happy at the moment anyway so that is all we can work off at the moment,” Cullen said on Thursday afternoon. “Stuart has had a huge impact on us a group. We're all very happy at the moment with the way the dynamic is working.

“We would be hopeful, yes.”

Lancaster has always batted away queries as to his future intentions and there will be little time to focus on personal plans this week as the reigning European champions travel to The Rec for a third round Pool 1 meeting.

Defeat away to Toulouse in their last Champions Cup encounter back in October has dialled up the pressure a little on the four-time winners, although Leinster have been imperious in the weeks since despite leaning on a raft of young players during the Test window.

"It's a great challenge against Bath,” said Cullen, the head coach. “When you talk about the tournament and its unique nature, the way its set out, we started the tournament well with the home game [against Wasps] in October and then we lost away to Toulouse.

"We had the break and various things happening during that November window. A lot of players have come back that haven't played with us since that day [in Toulouse] so it's been good having everyone back together.

"The dynamic shifts within the group. A lot of young players have done well when players have been away from Leinster but we've watched on with great admiration for the guys that have played for Ireland during that period. That's important for us from a province point of view.”

Leinster will be renewing acquaintances with their former full-back and attack coach Girvan Dempsey who only left the province for a similar role with the Gallagher Premiership club during the summer.

"For us, as coaches in the club, we've been very focused on this back-to-back for a host of reasons. A: they're a quality club and very well-coached. Girvan we know well and he knows us well and that's always something for us to consider. There's danger in that.

"We discussed even way back in pre-season in terms of altering some of our calls, etc. so that when this day comes we're not having to change a whole lot of things on the given week. It's a great challenge away from home, there's a huge amount at stake for us as a group.

"Everyone in the group is hungry and wants to represent the team well."


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