He may have sparred with him verbally in the weeks before his departure but Joe Schmidt had nothing to do with the end of the Aussie's spell with Leinster. That's according to the Ireland coach himself.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow's clash with the Barbarians in Thomond Park, the Ireland boss wanted to make sure there was no doubt where the decision to part ways with Matt O'Connor came from.
I was as surprised as anyone, it’s not the IRFU’s decision. It’s purely a Leinster game board decision. That’s the autonomy they had.
Schmidt and O'Connor had clashed over the then Leinster coach's public berating of the Irish player management system which left him without a number of his most high profile players for large parts of the season. However, Schmidt has dismissed suggestions that there was a rift between the pair, stating that the relationships between the national and provincial coaches remain key to how Irish rugby is run.
Those relationships are really important, I think everybody who has to share resources at stages are going to be contesting where and when those resources are best utilised. That’s part of the feedback that exists between the IRFU and player management.
The Ireland boss went on further to state that, although he won't be involved in the selection of the next Leinster coach, he will certainly be keeping an eye on how things develop.
I’ll be an interested observer, because I’ll be working with that person and that person will have a number of Ireland international players.
Perhaps it would just be best for everyone if Schmidt did both jobs. Granted, it may not be ideal (or possible) but would you really bet against him making a success of it.