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Lancaster plays down Leicester talk amid the shock of Ryan's retirement

 

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

It hasn't been confirmed by the club, but Stuart Lancaster believes Leicester will appoint Geordan Murphy as their head coach until the end of the season.

The Leinster senior coach is invariably linked with every vacancy that arises in the English Premiership, and yesterday he put any talk that he could decamp to Welford Road to bed.

Former Ireland full-back Murphy took temporary charge of the two-time European champions after they dismissed Matt O'Connor following their opening-day loss to Exeter Chiefs.

He has expressed an interest in continuing in the role and Lancaster believes it is Leicester's intention for him to do so.

Asked about the potential vacancy, Lancaster shook his head before saying: "My understanding is that Geordan Murphy has been appointed not just interim coach, he has been appointed the coach for the season."

Leicester are a club on Leinster minds in the wake of Dominic Ryan's premature retirement from rugby, which was confirmed on Saturday.

The flanker left his home province for the English club in 2017, but a series of concussions has forced him to call time on his career at the age of 28.

Details of Ryan's struggles with the injury have sent shockwaves around Irish rugby.

"It is a terrible shame for him," Lancaster said. "I only coached him for a year and I actually thought for him, given the number of quality back-rows here, it was a really good move for him, because he is a quality player.

"It is a real shame that he has not been able to fulfil his undoubted potential as a player and the opportunities that England would provide him."

Former team-mate Jack Conan echoed his coach's sentiments.

"It is tough to see someone like 'Dippy' (Ryan) have to retire at a young age," the No.8 said.

"I spent a lot of years with him here. Before anything else he is a fantastic bloke and was a great character around this place."

Leinster's primary focus this week is on addressing the factors that led to Saturday's defeat to Scarlets, and it looks like Bernard Jackman and the Dragons could be in for a rough Saturday at the RDS Arena, with Leo Cullen poised to call on the rest of his fit front-line internationals for their first home game this campaign.

Jack McGrath will miss out with a knee injury he sustained in training, but the Lion is expected to be back for the Round 6 meeting with Munster.

Lancaster said: "It is a shame for Jack because he worked really hard to get into the Ireland team at the end of the tour (to Australia), and he's worked hard on his fitness and his change-up that we've been talking about."

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