Leinster Rugby have announced that current coach Michael Cheika has signed a new two-year deal with the province and will be joined in the coaching department next season by Kurt McQuilkin and Alan Gaffney, both of whom have also agreed two-year deals.
Alan Gaffney’s knowledge and experience are being added to the coaching team to continue the development of back-line play, started by current backs coach David Knox.
Knox, the former Australian international, has done an excellent job in cultivating Leinster’s own unique attacking style. He will return to his native Sydney at the end of this season with his signature stamped all over the playing style of the province’s team.
Since Michael Cheika’s arrival in Dublin in the summer of 2005, he has overseen a virtual overhaul of the Leinster playing squad, where 10 remain from the panel that year, along with developing the coaching and support staff structures within the club.
In the last three years the likes of Luke Fitzgerald, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney and Jonathan Sexton have graduated to the full Ireland squad, while the province have remained a real force to be reckoned with in both the Magners League and Heineken Cup competitions.
Both Cheika and McQuilkin’s contract renewals, alongside the recruitment of former Leinster assistant coach Gaffney, will continue the squad’s development through a wealth of experience in what is set to herald the next step in this exciting new era for the province.
The disappointment of missing Heineken Cup qualification this year has increased the drive and hunger to become even better and more professional in its quest for Magners League and Heineken Cup honours over these next two seasons.
Leinster beat off competition for Gaffney’s signature from a host of Northern and Southern Hemisphere clubs and, interestingly, Cheika and Gaffney’s careers will come full circle when the Saracens coach arrives in the summer as he was Cheika’s first coach at the famous Randwick club back in the early 1990s. Gaffney’s consultancy role with Saracens will see him start his role at Leinster in early August.
PROFILE – KURT MCQUILKIN:
Former Leinster captain and Ireland international Kurt McQuilkin joined the Leinster coaching set-up in summer 2007.
After retiring from competitive rugby, he was part of the technical staff to assist the coaches for the Ireland Under-19s, for three World Championships (including the victorious 1998 campaign) and again served on the technical staff for the Ireland Under-21s during a World Cup and Six Nations.
He also spent two seasons as Ireland Sevens coach, and he also held coaching positions with the Ireland Development side and Samoa King Country in the NPC for two seasons.
Until his appointment as defence coach with the Leinster senior team, McQuilkin had also coached the Leinster Under-20s as well as both Lansdowne and Greystones in the AIB League.
PROFILE – ALAN GAFFNEY:
Alan Gaffney is a hugely experienced and widely respected coach with a strong knowledge of Northern Hemisphere rugby. A former coach of Randwick (1984-1996), New South Wales Under-21s and the Waratahs (assistant between 1997-1999), he then joined Leinster where his time with the province coincided with success for the team as they won the Celtic League in 2001/02 and were quarter-finalists in the Heineken Cup in the same season.
After two years with Leinster, he moved to Munster and oversaw one of the most successful periods in their history. In his three seasons with the province, they won the Celtic League, Celtic Cup and were twice semi-finalists in the Heineken Cup.
In the summer of 2005, then Australia head coach Eddie Jones took Gaffney back Down Under as Wallabies backs coach and since 2005 he has coached Saracens in the Guinness Premiership.