Stuart Lancaster happy to serve under Leo Cullen: 'I don't have to make the difficult decisions'

Stuart Lancaster happy to serve under Leo Cullen: 'I don't have to make the difficult decisions'
Stuart Lancaster.

Stuart Lancaster’s new role at Leinster will cover briefs as broad as attack, defence and player development but the former England boss insists he is happy to serve under Leo Cullen as he begins a one-year term with the province, writes Brendan O’Brien.

News broke on Monday morning that Lancaster would be joining the Leinster coaching staff after the unforeseen and unfortunate return to New Zealand of defence coach Kurt McQuilkin and the new man's designated title as ‘senior coach’ soon caught the eye.

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen.
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen.

Cullen sought to clear up any confusion by confirming that the Englishman would be assuming responsibility for the defensive end of the game while Lancaster added that he was bringing a wide array of talents to his new post.

"I think I understand a lot about defence,” he explained at Leinster HQ early Monday afternoon, “but equally I've got a reasonably broad range and hopefully I can influence some of the attacking stuff as well and also reach down to some of the academy work.

"I've come from a development background,” he added. “My role in England was not just head coach but also head of elite player development and I'd like to think I can offer Leinster something in that regard as well."

Lancaster’s background is in teaching and he spent time with Leeds Academy and Leeds Carnegie before moving on to roles as the RFU’s head of elite player development, Saxons head coach and the senior man in charge of the senior international side.

When asked what qualifications he possessed as a defence coach he mentioned the calibre of defense coaches including Andy Farrell, Mike Ford and Paul Gustard with whom he has collaborated in the past.

"There's a perception in England that I probably didn't do any coaching. Andy Farrell clearly led on the defence when I was with England, but I was coaching defence not less than three weeks ago in New Zealand. At Counties Manukau, my main remit was to coach defence.”

Lancaster has travelled widely since leaving his role as England head coach in the wake of their England’s disastrous World Cup campaign, spending time with the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL, Counties Manukau, the English FA and British Cycling.

His arrival makes for an interesting dynamic at Leinster where Graham Henry spent a short consultancy stint during the summer but Lancaster is perfectly content to serve as a lieutenant rather than a general for now.

"Perfect, it means I don't have to do any of the media stuff, I don't have to make any of the difficult selection decisions so it's never been about titles for me.

"I don't mind where I fit within the coaching team, obviously with England I gravitated to the head coaching role and I'm more than happy to help Leo out and pass on what I've learnt; that's certainly my intention.

"It's more for me about the people, if you get the right people working together and there's a common purpose and a common aim, the titles to a certain extent are slightly irrelevant to a certain extent."

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