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Gibbes: Leo Can Take Leinster Pack ‘Up Another Level’

Gibbes: Leo Can Take Leinster Pack ‘Up Another Level’

Ahead of his move to Clermont Auvergne, Leinster forwards coach Jono Gibbes has spoken about his time at Leinster and the job that awaits his successor.

Last Saturday at the RDS Leinster celebrated the careers of two legends and bid them farewell as their respective playing careers come to an end.

While Brian O’Driscoll is set to take a well-deserved break from rugby, Leo Cullen is preparing to move into a new role at Leinster as the province’s forwards coach.

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The man he replaces, Jono Gibbes, will be making his way to France this summer as he takes up a new position with Clermont Auvergne.

Gibbes has been at Leinster for five years, a time in which the province has won every trophy possible. The real lesson Gibbes says he has learned at Leinster, however, is from the players.

“For me, I’ve learned a massive amount off the players. I’ve really enjoyed working with them because I think they’re hungry, they’re motivated and they’re self-driven people,” said the New Zealander.

“That makes it stimulating to come to work each week with guys that want to be better. I’ve learned a lot off them and that’s a real positive for me from my time at Leinster.”

As for his replacement, what does he see Cullen, the three-time Heineken Cup winning captain, bringing to the role for next season?

“I think first of all, the person he is, he’s a good man, he’s calm and he puts a lot of thought into what he does.

“I think the person that he is will transfer into the job and make it a bit easier straight away because he’s got the guys’ respect, he carries himself really well and he’s methodical. Those are great attributes to have.”

As a former player himself, Gibbes knows what it is like to move to coaching, and how it feels to miss being a part of the on-field action.

He believes Cullen may take some time to adjust to retiring from his playing career but that with his experience in the game he will adapt.

“I think he will struggle and miss the game a little bit. There’s always a period where you think you still want to play. He will go through that naturally enough.

“Other than that, I think he’s been around a while, he’s seen most things over here. I think he’ll be able to cope really well. I think his adjustments will be minor, really.”

As Gibbes moves on, he leaves behind a group of Leinster forwards in great shape, with plenty of promising future prospects. He also sees Cullen taking that group on to the next level, as Leinster push to continue on the success of the past six years.

“I think Leo’s really well-placed to take it forward and go up another level again. I’m sure he understands what the players talk about after they have a meeting with me.

“He’ll have a good insight and he’ll be able to think, ‘I won’t make that mistake!’. I think he’ll be able to add something, simply because of his position as a player within the same group. It’s difficult to do that but I think the person he is makes it easier.”

Meanwhile, ticket sales for the Leinster v Ulster RaboDirect PRO12 semi-final – at the RDS on Saturday (kick-off 7pm) – have passed the 15,000 mark. Click here to purchase your ticket(s).

This will be the third Lenster v Ulster clash of the season, with Matt O’Connor’s men winning on both previous occasions – at the RDS back in December and at Ravenhill just two weeks ago.

Leinster have lost just one match in the last 12 rounds of the PRO12, finishing top of the table at the end of the regular season after last Saturday’s win over Edinburgh.