Belfast Telegraph

I'll help Leinster back to Euro summit: Lancaster

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Leinster's new 'senior coach' Stuart Lancaster has pledged to help restore the province to their place as Europe's dominant force.

The former England supremo took part in his first training session at UCD yesterday, having been revealed as the shock choice to replace Kurt McQuilkin in the backroom team by Leo Cullen.

Lancaster, who has been out of full-time work since his side crashed out of last year's World Cup at the pool stage, will take over McQuilkin's role as defence coach, while also having an input in Leinster's attacking game and Academy.

The precise nature of his role and place in the province's hierarchy remains unclear, although both he and Cullen were insistent that the three-time European Cup-winning captain would remain the chief decision maker.

Despite the strength of a squad packed with internationals, Leinster have not won a trophy since landing the Guinness PRO12 in 2014, and their last European Cup win came in 2012. Last season, they meekly crashed out of the Champions Cup at the pool stages.

But Lancaster, who had short-term roles with British Cycling and the Football Association in the interim, believes that his new club is well placed to bounce back.

"I don't think very far at all," he said when asked how far Leinster are away from the European elite. "It is a very difficult competition to win. I know a lot about the English Premiership and I know a lot about Saracens, for example.

"I know a lot of the fundamentals that underpin that club. Leinster have got all the foundations in place. Why not?

"You look at the quality of the team, the coaching environment they've got...

"Clearly, when those European games come around, Leinster should have their best team on the field. That should be the target.

"That is not to say the PRO12 is not a target. Having got to the final only to lose, the burning desire is to win it this year."

Cullen is hoping to learn from his new assistant.

"Stuart knows what it's like to step in as an interim coach at a far higher level than I did," he said.

"Some of the experience that he has will be of huge benefit to me, and culturally all the time we're looking to make improvements. You've got to get better."

Belfast Telegraph

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