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Brown turns down Leinster's advances to fill head coaching job

The42 understands that the Irish province made an approach for the former All Black.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

LEINSTER’S QUEST TO appoint a full-time head coach is continuing after New Zealander Tony Brown turned down an approach from the province.

Former All Blacks out-half Brown is currently working as an assistant coach with the Highlanders, whom he has helped into the semi-finals of this year’s Super Rugby.

Indeed, Brown’s superb work with the Kiwi side’s attacking game has seen his reputation soar, with Saturday’s qualifiers win over two-time champions the Chiefs featuring the latest demonstration of the Highlanders’ excellent attack.

The decision to part ways with Matt O’Connor in May has left Leinster on the search for a head coach to lead the province into the 2015/16 season as they look to recover from a disappointing 2014/15 campaign under the Australian.

Brown, who previously impressed as head coach of Otago in New Zealand’s ITM Cup, featured high on Leinster’s list of potential replacements.

Sources in New Zealand have confirmed to The42 that Leinster approached Brown to fill the role of head coach, with particular responsibility for their attack, the intention having been to link him up with current forwards coach Leo Cullen and recently-employed defence specialist Kurt McQuilkin.

However, Brown has rejected Leinster’s advances and expressed his intention of honouring his current contract with the Highlanders.

The capture of Brown would very much have seen Leinster’s recent policy of appointing up-and-coming coaches as their top man continue. Michael Cheika and Joe Schmidt were not quite household names when joining the province, but had built fine reputations with their work elsewhere.

Brown’s lack of interest leaves Leinster strongly looking at the possibility of having interim head coach Cullen lead a backroom staff of Girvan Dempsey, McQuilkin, and scrum coach John Fogarty into next season.

Should that prove to be the coaching team that guides Leinster through the entire 2015/16 season, there is some prospect of Brown being a more viable candidate in a year’s time.

In May, former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans confirmed that Leinster had been in “indirect contact” with him about succeeding O’Connor, but the New Zealander said he would not be taking up any offer.

Jono Gibbes, the former Leinster forwards coach and another early favourite to be appointed head coach, also ruled himself out of the running by signing a new contract as forwards coach with Top 14 club Clermont.

Indeed, Leinster’s Professional Games Board, who made the decision to cut ties with O’Connor at the end of last season, have been surprised by the general lack of high-quality interest in the position of head coach at the province.

Leinster surprised by lack of high-profile interest in head coaching position

Analysis: Leinster-linked Brown drives sensational Highlanders attack

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Murray Kinsella

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