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Moving On
O'Connor can freshen things up at Leinster - Easterby
The province’s team manager is delighted to have signed up a coach in the Joe Schmidt mould.

LEINSTER TEAM MANAGER Guy Easterby says that a new voice and a new accent at the helm will be of benefit to Leinster Rugby.

The Eastern province today confirmed Leicester Tigers coach Matt O’Connor as the man to replace Joe Schmidt from next season.

There can scarcely be tougher acts to follow than the Kiwi who is on the verge of a third European trophy in three seasons.

But speaking to TheScore.ie at Leinster’s UCD base today, Easterby expressed a hope that O’Connor could bring many of the same qualities to the table as Joe Schmidt did on his arrival in 2010.

“I’ve had a few chats with him and we’re probably looking for a very similar coach to Joe in terms of his skill-set and we feel that we’ve got that.

“He’s obviously going to be a different type of character, I think an Aussie compared to a New Zealander will have immediate differences. But I think it will certainly freshen things up.

“Joe’s done such a fantastic job and we’re proud of what he’s achieved here and we’re looking forward to him delivering with Ireland and I think that will have a positive effect on us as well.”

O’Connor’s destination has been an open secret for over a week after he paid a visit to Leinster bosses in Clonskeagh. There, Easterby says, he ‘interviewed well’ with not just CEO Mick Dawson, but also a selection of senior players who will hope to form the pillars of his version of Leinster.

“He needed to show to us how he intended to continue moving Leinster forward. He had ideas that I’m not going to give away, but they were really positive ideas that he can add to the environment and make us better.

“And I think he sold his ideas really well. I guess he interviewed really well when he was over here.”

David Davies/PA Archive/Press Association Images

While much has been made of the input from former Tigers Leo Cullen and Shane Jennings to the decision process, the duo’s task was mostly to corroborate the evidence already discussed in the recruitment.

“They’re good insiders for us and I think we would have been crazy not to use some of their contacts in Leicester, but again I think a lot of it was done.

“We met with Matt and we were happy with what we saw and then those sort of phone calls could be made just for that last half to make sure that what you’re hearing is across the board and they obviously got some great feedback for us.”

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