It hasn’t been a season to remember for Leinster, but the job of head coach remains a highly attractive one, according to Eoin Reddan, who says the players, the squad and the system necessary for success are all still in place.
The scrum-half did admit yesterday that the players needed to shoulder some of the blame for Matt O’Connor’s premature departure last week and that it may be difficult for any coach to live up to the Joe Schmidt years “compared to the results” assembled in that spell.
Yet he dismissed that and any other factors as reasons why prospective coaches would pass on the opportunity to work at a club that has won so many trophies and still possesses such an impressive squad and supporting structures.
“It is a big challenge,” said Reddan. “Someone out there will see it as an opportunity and someone out there will think it’s not for them. You want someone who is: ‘I’m all over this. I want this.’ You see the same with guys who go across the water, players who are desperate to play for Ireland and who try any route they can. They often come through. It is the same with a coach.
“You want someone who really, really wants it. It is important. That has to be taken into account. If someone thinks that’s not for them next year… guys will be away and they’ll come back. The culture needs to be strong enough to take those ups and downs of players in and out.”
O’Connor regularly bemoaned the lack of access he had to his Ireland players for large chunks of the season and called for changes to be to the IRFU’s player management system to account for the fact Leinster were the national side’s prime provider of beef.
Joe Schmidt and the IRFU’s performance director David Nucifora all but publicly berated him for that earlier this month, however, and Reddan doesn’t feel the system as it currently is requires any great alterations to ensure Leinster can do better under their new man. “No, Matt probably saw the worst side of it because maybe we didn’t perform well enough as players when we came back for him.
“We’ve got a great group of players in Leinster, from top-to-bottom. Going forward, I have full confidence that group can deliver if we up our own standards.
“We’re going to need to give more to the guy coming in than we gave to Matt this year. It is important for players to be managed properly throughout the year. It is very important, particularly in the year that’s in it with a World Cup coming up.
“The question is, as a club, do you still feel you can win trophies? We certainly do. Even with all those problems we had this year, in terms of form or injuries or players not being available, we still were in the semi-final of a Champions Cup and we nearly won it.”
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