Joe Schmidt will soon have to factor Jason Cowman out of the Leinster equation after the strength and conditioning coach accepted an offer to move up to the Ireland job. Gradually, the IRFU are filling the gaps around the national side.
Cowman will be a big loss to a Leinster set-up where he is both valued and respected. Given that Dan Tobin has been filling in for him while Cowman was digging Ireland out in last season’s Six Nations, and NZ tour, they may already have their man, but it will be interesting to see who else rocks up for interview.
You might ask why Cowman would want to leave a set-up that is thriving for one that clearly is not? The lure of Test rugby is one thing, and already – having spent 12 years with Leinster – seemingly he has enjoyed working at that level.
The flexible nature of the job is another. Cowman is working on a PhD and it will be lot easier to pursue that on national duty rather than the day to day challenge of a province. Plus there is a few extra bob.
Also you can only infer that he reckons he will get on with the IRFU’s new head of fitness, Dave Clark. A few of us have been tuned into the soap opera that has been the union and its strength and conditioning portfolio. At last the pieces are being filled, with Clark and Cowman taking up the reins at Lansdowne Road.
What happens next will be intriguing. Planning players’ fitness and sharing that information across the board is more important the smaller your player pool. And it’s something the union – who could never quite grasp the concept of high performance – have never got to grips with.
Between them, Clark and Cowman will have to get all the four provinces on board with a structure everyone believes in. And Leinster will have to fill a hole. Let’s see if they can do it faster than it took the IRFU.