This past Saturday, Leinster made the very eye-catching announcement that they will be replacing Stuart Lancaster with South Africa head coach Jaques Nienaber for next season.
The South African joined Rassie Erasmus' Springboks coaching staff ahead of the 2019 World Cup and was their defence coach in that title-winning campaign.
Speaking on Monday Night Rugby, journalist Gerry Thornley offered his insight into how the story broke and what Nienaber will bring to the table at Leinster.
“Apparently, it was going to break in South Africa,” said Thornley. “That is why they made their announcement on Saturday. It was an unusual day to make an announcement like this. But, I must admit I was shocked when I first saw Jacques Nienaber, really, for a couple of reasons.”
“Number one, he is leaving a head coaching role, supposedly, anyway, with Rassie Erasmus as the overlord, but a head coaching role with the reigning World Cup champions to become basically work under Leo Cullen at Leinster. This means Leinster are replacing one former international head coach in, Stuart Lancaster, with another in, Jacques Nienaber.”
“And they also have, lest we forget, a former member of the Crusaders coaching staff. Probably the best club side in the Southern Hemisphere in Andrew Goodman as well. So this just shows you that Leinster are now an elite brand in global rugby, below test level. This reaffirms that in a major way."
“It is an odd one at first when you think of it because the brand of rugby Munster play, the brand of rugby that the Springboks play, that style we particularly associated with the Lions series is the polar opposite of the kind of brand of rugby that Ireland and Leinster are playing."
“But I guess he is an adaptable coach, and it will be interesting to see what kind of remit exactly he will have. I would imagine Andrew Goodman's got a fair bit of a role, too, along with Nienaber. And then you have got Sean O'Brien. Maybe he will have a bigger role too.”
“You would think that he's been attracted. It is a very interesting way for him to go. He certainly brings a lot of intellectual property from the South African rugby setup. South Africans have come over the horizon now and are with us for some time to come. I think that might have been a factor that he has got such inside knowledge of South African franchises that Leinster are going to be coming up against in the URC and potentially in the Champions Cup as well, in years to come. He has got a working knowledge of Irish rugby through being at Munster. So he does tick off a lot of boxes.”
“It's certainly a very eye-catching announcement.”
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