By Brendan O’Brien
Leinster scrum-half Eoin Reddan believes the province’s players must shoulder a large proportion of the blame for head coach Matt O’Connor’s premature exit from his role last week.
O’Connor’s three-year contract was terminated, reportedly by “mutual consent”, with a season still to run on it after a campaign which saw Leinster struggle for form in the PRO12 where they finished outside the play-off places.
Leinster did come within a whisker of making the Rugby Champions Cup final when Jimmy Gopperth just missed a last gasp drop goal at the end of normal time in Marseille against Toulon - the reigning champions who went on to claim a three-in-a-row of European titles.
However, the side’s struggles in the league and the increasing criticism of the team’s performances led Leinster's Professional Games Board to bring forward the end of the Australian’s time in Dublin, even if Reddan focused on a more collective sense of responsibility.
“The criticism was always levelled at the group. As a whole, we didn’t perform well enough. It’s very hard then for an organisation to come in then and rectify that. On this occasion they chose Matt. As a group, players are still looking at themselves and feel we could have done much more for Matt.
“At the same time we have to get our heads around it quickly and get training and get preparing again. It’s very tough as Matt is a great guy who had lots of friends in the squad so none of us like to see that happen.”
Reddan, who is part of the Ireland squad revealed Monday afternoon and which faces the Barbarians in Thomond Park on Thursday, also revealed that the playing staff had been taken by surprise when the news of O’Connor’s exit was revealed to them.