Denis Hickie says Leinster's new coach should not be a big name

Hickie has backed Leo Cullen to make an impact

Hickie helped launch the Caps to the Summitt event yesterday.
Hickie helped launch the Caps to the Summitt event yesterday.

FORMER LEINSTER STAR Denis Hickie has urged the province to look beyond big name as they search for a new head coach.

Several high profile coaches have distanced themselves from the position since Matt O’Connor’s resignation in May, with the province appointing Leo Cullen as caretaker until a permanent successor is found.

However, Hickie says that Leinster should think outside the box as they hunt for a new head coach, saying that their best success has been with “innovators”, rather than big names.

“It hasn’t taken Leinster to have a really big name coach, a guy who was coach of a national side, a guy who was coach of another fantastic team, or a head coach. That’s not what’s actually worked for Leinster.

“If you look at Michael Cheika coaching a club side in Australia, if you look at Joe Schmidt who was an assistant coach in France. The guys who have made the biggest impact in Leinster at various stages have been coaches who’ve taken a different type of approach who haven’t necessarily been the big names.”

“So whoever that role is, whether they’re working with Leo as head coach or as assistant coach, they need to be a type of innovator who really takes Leinster to another level. I don’t think Leinster need some sort of old hand who’s going to steady the ship,” Hickie said.

Despite any potential new coach being without several of his best players due to the World Cup, Hickie says that short term inconvenience will not influence the interest in the position.

“I think a lot of coaches will be in the same position in the sense that the World Cup is on, but I don’t think one coach will be making a decision to take a job or not based on not having players for three months.

“It’s a three-year job, a two to three-year deal and anyone who’s going to be applying for the job has got a two or three year plan.

“Put it this way, I don’t think anyone can come in that will lose their job after six months if it hasn’t gone well because players have gone to the World Cup,” he added.

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Leo Cullen Cullen will take temporary charge, but is a contender for the permanent role. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Hickie also gave his backing to his former Leinster teammate Leo Cullen to steady the ship on an interim basis, and wouldn’t rule him out of the running to take the gig on a permanent basis.

“He (Cullen) has the experience and the respect of the players there to do the role he’s been given to do for the moment. The role he’s given in the future, we’ll have to wait and see.”

After Matt O’Connor said Leinster fans need to be more realistic while speaking to RTE’s 2fm last night, Hickie defended the fans’ expectations, saying that the former head coach failed to reach his own objectives, and not those of the fans.

“Any coach, if they don’t have the results that the Board of Management or their objectives set for them runs the risk of losing their job, and I think any coach applying for the Leinster job will know that standards are high here. They’ll agree, like any employee agrees to objectives at the start of the year and if you don’t reach the objectives you’re at the mercy of your employer.

“I don’t think fifth place was a disgrace, I don’t think everyone was saying it was a disgrace.

“I don’t think Matt O’Connor lost his job because the fans weren’t happy with the results, and if the point he’s making is that the expectations are very high at Leinster, they probably are, and they’ll probably remain so as long as the team has the players at hand,” Hickie said.

Current Irish Rugby Stars, Ian Madigan and Nora Stapleton joined Alan Kerins (Alan Kerins Projects), Denis Hickie (patron to Gorta-Self Help Africa), Tony Ward and Ollie Campbell (former Irish rugby players) in St. Stephen’s Green today to launch the Caps to the Summit event. A two day event  that will see 32 former Irish rugby heroes hike to the summit of Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntuohil in September to raise money for the Alan Kerins Projects and Gorta-Self Help Africa. Further information available at:

Originally published at 6.05am

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Neil Treacy

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