Joe Giddens/EMPICS Sport Leicester Tigers coach Matt O'Connor is tipped to replace Joe Schmidt.
# Tigers Tale
Leicester confirm Matt O’Connor has held coach talks with Leinster
Leicester Tigers coach Matt O’Connor is tipped for the role but Les Kiss could also be in the running.

LEINSTER RUGBY IS not hanging around and should be in place to name a new coach, to replace the outgoing chief Joe Schmidt, before the Amlin Challenge Cup Final.

The IRFU announced yesterday afternoon that Schmidt would be taking up the role of Ireland head coach from this November, when Samoa, New Zealand and Australia land in Dublin. The Kiwi, who has been at Leinster for three seasons, paid tribute to the province for giving the move their collective blessing.

The frontrunners for the Leinster job, at present, are forwards coach Jonno Gibbes, Queensland Reds coach Ewen McKenzie, wallabies coach Robbie Deans, Les Kiss, who interviewed for the Ireland job, and Leicester Tigers’ Australian coach Matt O’Connor.

Reports in Leicestershire would suggest that the 42-year-old, who is out of his Tigers contract at the end of this season, is on his way to the three-time Heineken Cup champions and their UCD headquarters. A Leinster spokesperson confirmed to that an announcement on the new coach would be made ‘in the next one or two weeks’. The Challenge Cup Final, against Stade Francais at the RDS, takes place on 17 May.

The story was advanced this afternoon when Tigers’ Director of Rugby, Richard Cockerill told Sky Sports News that O’Connor’s departure to Leinster was a distinct possibility. He said:

I’m aware of the interest in Matt. [He] has been over to Leinster to see them… Matt’s ambition is to coach international rugby. The next step would be to make the move to a big club like Leinster. It’s certainly a possibility.”

He added, “I’d be surprised if he was not on the coaching international scene, and Australia, in the next few years… he’s a great coach and a great bloke.”

Kiss, meanwhile, may stay on with Ireland as part of Schmidt’s coaching ticket, especially if the side he leads, as interim coach, performs well against the USA and Canada this summer. Speaking about a working relationship with Kiss, Schmidt told that he approached Kiss three years ago with a view to coaching the backs at Leinster. He added:

He’s very capable. For me, I’m pretty busy in the next 4 weeks. That allows Les the opportunity to get that team together. Les has spoken to me a couple of times already, in my role as Leinster coach, to let me know who is involved at this stage and who is in the wider reckoning.

“Obviously we’ve got to wait until a couple of names, hopefully, get pulled out of the [Lions selection]… The more that get pulled out, the better. I think Les has a pretty good list of who else is available to tour North America and go on the development tour to Georgia.”

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