Leinster’s ‘drive for five’ starts in the backroom
Contepomi is new backs coach as blue province goes after another European star
Leinster’s Jack Conan: “I think we have the squad, the depth and the talent.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Leinster might pay heed to the GAA gods. The drive for five can come with all manner of curses. See Mick O’Dwyer’s immortal Kerry crashing against the rock of Peter Dooley’s faithful county in 1982 or Henry Shefflin’s cruciate limp in 2010.
“I spoke to Stuart [Lancaster] after the European final last year and he said ‘the drive for five starts now’,” said Jack Conan as the blue province go searching another European star to stitch into the jersey. “In his head he’d already flicked the switch and was on to the next one.”
Toulouse also have four European titles. Nobody has five.
“I think we have the squad, the depth and the talent,” Conan continued. “We also have the coaches to do it.”
The Leinster back room shows notable changes, with Felipe Contepomi replacing Girvan Dempsey as backs coach while former Trinity and St Mary’s flanker Hugh Hogan gets promoted from the underage ranks as a “contact skills coach”.
“All the feedback from the lads is that [Contepomi] has been fantastic and he’s just bringing a different mindset and a different approach to the way we have attacked over the last few years,” said Conan.
“There is a huge onus to make sure we are missing less tackles and collisions, make sure we are dominating, making more impacts.
“The way the game is going now, everyone is so conscious about the tackle height, there’s massive arguments about whether it should be chest high, shoulder high – if we can remove the ambiguity and make sure we’re so on the level, and there’s no final where someone makes a tackle a little too high and we end up losing. If we practice through the year, make sure we get nice and low, and not giving teams easy access in to the game, there’ll be no easy out for a big team.”