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Dublin: 0°C Friday 23 April 2021

Cullen hoping Contepomi's fresh set of eyes can keep Leinster on the upward curve

The head coach is keen to welcome some outside influence to the reigning European champions.

LEINSTER HEAD COACH Leo Cullen hopes the balance of Leinster roots and varied experience elsewhere Felipe Contepomi brings will maintain a freshness in Leinster’s approach.

The former Argentina playmaker has taken up the role of backs coach with Leinster, returning to Ireland nine years after he departed the province as they celebrated a first European Cup triumph.

Felipe Contepomi Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Contepomi comes in as replacement for Girvan Dempsey, whose 21-year run as a one-club man through his entire rugby career came to a halt as he joined Todd Blackadder’s Bath.

The straight swap from a loyal servant in Dempsey, entrenched in Leinster as player and academy boss before becoming backs coach, to a former player who has sampled a wide variety of environments, is a switch Cullen hopes can keep the double champions on an upward curve.

Leo Cullen and Felipe Contepomi Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“There’s a lot of guys coming through the system here, you’re producing from within so much, every now and then it’s nice to have an outside perspective coming in,” says Cullen.

Felipe certainly gives us that. He’s been in Leinster, so he understands how things operate. He’s played in England, France and has experience of the international game. I think he can add a huge amount to some of the players we have.”

Jonathan Sexton has far less scope for improvement than most, and certainly academy prospects Cullen is referring to here. Yet the Pumas legend will hope to ‘add value’ to the Ireland 10′s game. As backs coach he will work closely with Sexton, whose character and leadership brings a naturally crossover with a coach’s duties.

“Johnny and Felipe have a strong relationship going back to when they would have been competing with each other, played a bit together as well. Johnny’s very excited about Felipe coming back as well.

Jonathan Sexton with Felipe Contepomi after the gameSexton and Contepomi embrace after a November 2010 Test.Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

"(Contepomi) could always see the game very, very quickly. He has a great appreciation for the game. He's a very smart guy, always running around when he was here because he was doing his medical studies."

"He's going to add to the coaching group we have. Everyone's been working hard, culminating with the two trophies at the end of the season.

"It's good to have a fresh face coming in as well, someone who gives us a slightly different perspective on things. We've a lot of young players and you're always looking to add to the group; 'what's going to help the players get better?' Having that outside perspective does help."

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Sean Farrell

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