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Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 6°C
# Wanted
6 men who could fill Leinster's vacant head coach position
We’re expecting Jake White to be in the news a lot this summer.

AFTER TWO TOUGH years, Matt O’Connor’s association with Leinster came to an end today.

As the news comes so late in the season and with many of the world’s best coaches locked in to international contracts beyond the upcoming World Cup, the province may have to be patient in their search for a replacement.

However, here’s five men The42 think should be dropping in to their contact list very soon (and not a great Jake White in sight).

1. Bernard Jackman

The eastern province have never appointed a homegrown head coach on a full-time basis in the pro era. If it’s time for that to happen, then they can’t do much better than Bernard Jackman.

The former hooker has proven his worth in France, working his way from defence to head coach in a Grenoble side that consistently punches above its weight.

Bernard Jackman James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

2. Girvan Dempsey

It may be seen as a marriage of convenience, but Dempsey has impressed many in his time as academy manager and also came in for unprompted praise from Joe Schmidt when Ireland’s head coach criticised Matt O’Connor last month.

If the timing of O’Connor’s exit makes recruitment tricky, he would certainly seem an ideal partner for Leo Cullen to share the reins with on a part-time basis.

Mike Ross with Girvan Dempsey 26/11/2013 Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

3. Robbie Deans

He’s under contract with the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan after a seriously disappointing tenure in charge of the Wallabies.

That experience though, should not erase Deans’ history in New Zealand where he presided over a very special Crusaders team that included an unbeaten season in 2002.

Head Coach Robbie Deans Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

4. Ewen McKenzie

Another former Wallaby head coach and the only man on this list not currently working in rugby. McKenzie departed the international scene under a cloud last year, but created one of the most exciting teams of the Super Rugby era in the Queensland Reds.

If it’s attractive, attacking rugby Leinster want, Ewen McKenzie would guarantee it.

Joe Schmidt and Ewen McKenzie Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

5. Jono Gibbes

He is halfway through his two-year contract with Clermont, but after six years in Dublin he would surely relish a chance to return to target a fourth European Cup with Jonathan Sexton.

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Like Deans, we don’t know the specifics of Gibbes’ current contract, but it would seem sensible if he had agreed an escape clause if the opportunity to become a head coach came along.

Matt O'Connor and Jono Gibbes Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

6. Gregor Townsend

The reigning Pro12 coach of the year has his heart and mind fully invested in the project of making Glasgow Warriors a team to contend with at the very highest level.

He has been open about his admiration for the methods Leinster have used in their years as European champions. Would he fancy reviving those methods with a harp on his chest?

Pictured with his award for Guinness Pro12 Coach of the Season is Gregor Townsend from Glasgow Warriors

Originally published Thursday at 11.25

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