Leicester Tigers coach Matt O’Connor is now favourite to succeed Joe Schmidt in Leinster. Schmidt’s move to Lansdowne Road will be confirmed by the IRFU tomorrow, and O’Connor is in pole position to take over in time for pre-season training which starts on 1 July.
It is understood that O’Connor visited Leinster’s new HQ in UCD last week and met with staff and some senior players. A Leicester source confirmed last night that O’Connor’s position in Welford Road hadn’t been nailed down for next season. According to a Leinster source that contract expires on 1 May.
The Australian joined Leicester in 2008 as assistant to Heyneke Meyer and was retained when Meyer went back to South Africa the next year. While Richard Cockerill is director of rugby at Leicester, O’Connor is head coach with a reputation as being technically excellent.
O’Connor coached the Brumbies back line for four seasons and had three years with Australia A before moving to Leicester.
His top level experience would be stronger than Chris Boyd, coach of Wellington’s provincial side, who was also on Leinster’s target list. While Robbie Deans has the strongest track record of all those Leinster have been looking at, the need to have someone on site in time for the new season is a major obstacle for a man who is not expected to survive beyond the Lions series.