'We can’t comment on other people’s speculation' - Cullen coy on Lancaster's future

The Leinster head coach also revealed that his house was broken into ahead of last week’s URC opener against Zebre.

Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster.
Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

LEO CULLEN SAYS losing coaches and players to other teams is “part and parcel of the business we are in” as Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster continues to be linked with a move to Racing 92.

Racing have reportedly been considering a move for Lancaster for a number of months but in recent weeks speculation has intensified that the former England head coach is close to agreeing a switch to the Parisian giants at the end of the season.

Lancaster joined Leinster as senior coach in September 2016, but is out of contract at the end of the current campaign.

Cullen – who also revealed his house was broken into last week – was speaking to the media this afternoon ahead of tomorrow’s United Rugby Championship clash with Benetton, where Lancaster’s future was naturally the major talking point.

“We talk all the time, always during the season,” Cullen said when asked if had spoken to Lancaster about his future.

“You think you are coming to the start of the season but everyone is always making plans for the future. That’s players and staff and the backroom team as well. So it is like the silly season is there, always, up until a point where things get finalised.

So we are in a period of speculation, shall we say, and we can’t comment on other people’s speculation, you know what I mean, but there has always been things going on in the background.

“We are very lucky that we have a very strong group, some great people in our building and that’s credit to a lot of the work that goes on over the last number of years so we are very lucky in that regard.

“But the reality is there is lots of other clubs who look at the talent, whether that is players or coaches we have, and that is something we have to deal with all of the time and people make different decisions at different stages

“And we are trying to talk about one person specifically, who has been amazing since he came into Leinster.”

Lancaster has been a major part of Leinster’s recent success, the province winning four league titles and one Champions Cup since he joined in 2016, quickly forming an excellent coaching partnership with Cullen.

stuart-lancaster Lancaster joined Leinster in 2016. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

Lancaster’s expected exit comes after a summer in which the province saw backs coach Felipe Contepomi leave to join Argentina before contact skills coach Denis Leamy returned to Munster. 

Losing Lancaster would represent the biggest blow yet.

“You need to deal with all these cases individually,” Cullen continued.

“Just the nature of it, like, generally people are signing for not much longer than two years. So it is always, every year 50% of your coaching and playing staff are off contract and you just have to go through with that, and you know, that’s part of the evolution of teams, never stays the same.

“You know, we say it towards the end of every season, where you are coming to the end of the season that that group is never going to be the same again. 

If you think, Denis Leamy is now down there coaching at Munster. Felipe is now involved with coaching Argentina during the Rugby Championship and there are other players who have already started their careers in other teams. We had lads playing for Connacht up in Ravenhill last week and a couple of lads I see running out in Exeter jerseys as well. 

“So that’s just part and parcel of the business we are in.”

Cullen also revealed that his house was broken into last week ahead of Leinster’s URC opener against Zebre.

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“I did media on Monday, on Monday evening [12 September], my wife woke me up in the middle of the night and said she thought someone had been in the house,” he explained.

“I went downstairs, my work laptop, passport and wallet had all been robbed out of our living room. I was scrambling around last week, by the end of the game in Zebre I was very relieved, A, that I was there, and B, that we got a bonus point win. It was tight in the end.

“If anyone finds a Leinster laptop bag, with a laptop in it with all my notes and my passport, I’d love to find it again please.

“It was unusual, yeah. I have some footage of the guy going into the back of our house.

“It’s all part of the joys. The Gardaí are on the case.”

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Ciarán Kennedy

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