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'Leinster coaching contract delay didn't contribute to semi-final failure' - Horgan

The province have yet to publicly clarify the future of Leo Cullen and his coaching ticket.

New deals for Stuart Lancaster and Leo Cullen have yet to be publicly announced.
New deals for Stuart Lancaster and Leo Cullen have yet to be publicly announced.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

SHANE HORGAN REFUSES to believe the ongoing Leinster coaching team contract situation contributed to the province’s Guinness Pro12 semi-final defeat to Scarlets.

The future of Leo Cullen, Stuart Lancaster, Girvan Dempsey and John Fogarty remains uncertain, publicly at least, with no official confirmation that the coaching ticket have renewed their terms with the club.

Lancaster, in particular, underlined his desire to stay with Leinster earlier in the season and an announcement has been expected for some time, but the delay has only fueled speculation that negotiations have hit a stumbling block.

Leinster’s form has tailed off at the business end of the season and they flopped spectacularly in last week’s semi-final at the RDS but instead of looking too much into the future of the coaching staff, Horgan admitted the lack of clarity during the game was most worrying.

“Maybe you and I are not sure about defined roles although they could certainly be defined within house but we may not know what they are,” the former Leinster winger said.

“The real concern I would have is what went on at half-time and what didn’t following the sending-off of Steff Evans.

“It had been pretty clear that although there was some success with the game Leinster were playing in attack initially perhaps in the first half, after everything changed, Leinster were persisting after that in trying to get around them.

Johnny Sexton dejected after the game Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“Instead, they could have played the game a lot simpler. Their ball-carrying game should have been more effective. They needed to put an extra man in rucks because even with a man down the ball was being turned over and slowed down.

“So those concerns were not identified early enough and it was very difficult because the skill level was so poor, dropping balls and knock-ons, no accuracy at ruck-time.”

It all means Leinster’s season, previously acknowledged as an encouraging and progressive one, ended with a whimper and in hugely disappointing fashion.

Horgan added: “It’s just extremely disappointing because we had seen a lot of progress during the year and there appeared to be, even after defeat in Lyon against Clermont, many signs of positivity. We thought things were moving in the right way.

“It is disappointing when it came to the really important business end of knockout rugby, against a team they have beaten many times, they didn’t deliver any performance.

“It was one of the worst of the season unfortunately and it will make for a couple of uncomfortable months before the season starts again.”

The British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand starts on 3rd June, exclusively on Sky Sports. It is part of the biggest ever summer of sport on Sky Sports, which also includes the ICC Champion’s Trophy, The Open, F1 and Exclusive action from the GAA All-Ireland Senior Championship.

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Ryan Bailey

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