Cullen excited about what Nienaber will bring

Published date31 October 2023
Publication titleIrish Times (Dublin, Ireland)
Leo Cullen confirmed that he had been in contact with Nienaber during the World Cup, and as recently as Sunday, but that Leinster were content to ensure that the outgoing head coach of the newly crowned world champions got an opportunity to celebrate the success at home before travelling to Dublin

Cullen spoke effusively about the South African not just as a coach but a person.

“I can’t wait, we’re really excited. There’s a lot of unknown and that’s a good thing. I’m optimistic in terms of the due diligence we would do on people that come in [to Leinster]. There’s so much positivity around Jacques as a person and as a coach as well.

“I think he just loves coaching and loves the people he works with, gets on with things. He’s very hard-working according to Felix [Jones, the Sandycove-born assistant Springboks coach who now moves to join Steve Borthwick’s England coaching set-up] as well I believe, which is exciting.

“It’s the love of coaching and love of helping players get better, ultimately that’s important for us as support staff, that’s almost the most important trait. It’s character over competence in many ways. Obviously, you must have competence and he clearly has both.”

Several Ireland players were back in training with Leinster yesterday ahead of Saturday’s URC match against Edinburgh at the RDS (3.05), including those like Ryan Baird and Jack Conan, who had limited game time during the World Cup.

Cullen confirmed that the remainder would filter back over the next week or so.

“There were a few guys training today. We will make some calls, but we are comfortable with the group that we have as well.”

Four Leinster players, Garry Ringrose, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong and Caelan Doris, along with Connacht’s Bundee Aki were named in the World Rugby Dream Team as outstanding performers during the World Cup in France.


Cullen smiled when asked about the accolade and suggested tongue in cheek that “maybe they are basing it off the Ireland/South Africa game”.

He continued: “It is a great achievement, isn’t it? For the Irish guys, they’re so close to it. That’s the thing, it’s on the day. We’ve experienced that a little bit ourselves on the day. We just need to get it right, not just part of the...

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