LEINSTER HOOKER SEAN CRONIN would not be surprised if he arrives for training at Rosemount next season and sees Brian O’Driscoll conversing with the coaching staff.
Cronin, who was a deserved man of the match following Leinster’s 34-12 final win over Glasgow Warriors on Saturday, would be delighted if the retired O’Driscoll follows Leo Cullen onto the coaching staff.
“I’ve said it before, but when [Cullen] speaks you just shut up and listen,” said Cronin. “It is brilliant that he is coming through. Brian is leaving a few hints that he might come back in some capacity.”
O’Driscoll lasted just eight minutes of his final game but Cronin says the centre can look back on his final season with satisfaction. “Drico has pulled out a few moments of magic this season,” he said. “Class is permanent. You saw his through the legs pass against Northampton, a couple of crucial turnovers against Ulster. He just has an all-round presence and it was great to play with him.”
Asked if O’Driscoll would make a good backs coach at the province, Cronin declared, “Of course, it would be fantastic. You can tell by the way he talks at team meetings about decisions to be made. He’s been around so many years and played at the highest level. It would be brilliant to have him come in and add something. I don’t know, maybe he wants to put his feet up and relax with his family for a while.”
The RaboDirect Pro12 champions currently rely on head coach Matt O’Connor and skills coach Richie Murphy, who is seconded with the national team, for their backline play. While Leinster’s defensive game has earned praise, it has come at a try-scoring cost.
Fullback Rob Kearney remarked, last week, that the Blues backline was not as good as previous seasons as they crossed the whitewash less than 2012/13, under Joe Schmidt. This season Leinster scored 79 tries whereas they had 92 tries last season. It must be noted, however, that 14 of them came in three high-scoring Challenge Cup games.
The Limerick native paid credit to O’Driscoll for holding his hand up when he was injured and not trying to play on to the detriment of his team. Ian Madigan, he added, did superbly as the centre’s early replacement.
Cronin put the 22-point victory ‘up there with the Northampton Saints’ game, at Franklin’s Gardens, in the Heineken Cup. His performance edged out that of Zane Kirchner [two tries] and Jimmy Gopperth [14 points] to claim the man-of-the-match accolade.
Making an impact, he said, was his main focus all week. “It’s a big occasion. It’s what you want to do. I love playing with those lads, they’re a brilliant bunch. Winning trophies is the best way to give back to that squad,” he said.
Minor surgery of his shoulder kept Cronin out of the Ireland summer tour to Argentina but he can expect a recall for the November internationals if he hits the new season running.