Lancaster coy on future as Leinster contract talks continue

Lancaster coy on future as Leinster contract talks continue

The identity of Stuart Lancaster's employer this time next year remains up for debate but the Leinster senior coach has again insisted that he is perfectly happy at Leinster where he has rebuilt a career damaged by England's early World Cup exit in 2015.

Persona non grata after leaving his position as England head coach three years ago, Lancaster accepted an approach to join Leinster just less than a year later and he has been lauded by players and fellow coaches at the province ever since.

Regularly linked with vacant coaching positions in the UK since his arrival in Dublin, Lancaster has been talked up as a possible lieutenant for Ireland-coach-in-waiting Andy Farrell who served under him with England and England Saxons.

Lancaster has also been mentioned with regard to a role with England.

The RFU's interim CEO Nigel Melville has stated that he would not rule anyone out of the race to succeed Eddie Jones down the line when asked specifically about the former post holder.

"I'm used to (speculation),” Lancaster said on Monday afternoon.

Number one: I've been consistent since I've been here. I've really enjoyed Leinster, I really enjoy coaching at Leinster. It's a great team and a great environment to work in.

"I enjoy club coaching, I enjoy the day in, day out interaction with the players. I enjoy the moments when the internationals are away and we've got the younger players to coach.

"All this speculation, it's like people are ringing me all the time - I don't get any phone-calls. So, I'm just ploughing along, enjoying what I'm doing at Leinster.

"I don't look too far ahead anymore, I was contracted with England until 2019 and that changed on the World Cup.

"I've stopped looking ahead now, but I can certainly re-assure everyone I'm very happy at Leinster."

Lancaster coy on future as Leinster contract talks continue

As for the RFU link, Lancaster dealt with it almost flippantly, pointing out that the RFU were basically keeping the door open to every professional coach in world rugby and that he was merely among a cast of thousands.

Any return to the England post would inevitably resurrect memories of the 2015 debacle when the national team failed to make it out of the pool stages on home soil and he was asked specifically if the fallout from that experience would put him off going again.

"It's a hypothetical situation because it's never been suggested. I've never spoken to Nigel Melville or the RFU so I don't even exercise my mind thinking about it."

The Englishman's Leinster contract expires at the end of the current season and he revealed that talks over a new deal were “ongoing” and that he was happy with where they are at, even if the gruelling commute is a trial.

“The family situation works, it's not ideal and I've said that consistently, that flying backwards and forwards, my daughter's just gone to university and my son is a year away from going to university. I occasionally see my wife.

"But yeah I'm certainly happy with Leinster but we'll see how it all plays out."

A switch of briefs from Leinster to Ireland would, if anything, cut down on the number of flights over and back across the Irish Sea but Lancaster is an able and effective communicator and he managed to to evade the issue again when asked if he could rejoin Farrell come 2020.

Lancaster coy on future as Leinster contract talks continue

"It's up to Andy to build his coaching team. The reality is he needs his coaching team to be ready by January 2020.

"I've not caught up with him actually since the announcement, I will do soon I'm sure and it will be up to him to shape that. I'll have that conversation with him.

"He's the right man for the job in my opinion. When Joe announced he was going there was only one person I felt was qualified to do the job and that was Andy.

"He's sat as an assistant coach for eight years now, four with me and four with Joe.

And when you're sat in that assistant coaching role you can learn a lot about what you would do when you get your chance and Andy has got the opportunity now over the next six to nine months to put that into place.

"I think of my appointment as England head coach, I got it in December and my first game was in January.

"Andy's got a year to decide what he wants to do, so I don't think he'll be in a hurry."

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