It's taken a while since Matt O'Connor left Leinster as head coach last May, but Leinster today confirmed their coaching ticket for the upcoming season.
As expected, Leo Cullen has been promoted from forwards coach to head coach on a two year deal. Cullen is second in all time appearances for the province with 221 caps, and the three-time Heineken Cup winner will lead the team after O'Connor's departure.
Cullen's appointment had been flagged for a while, but had been delayed over concerns raised by IRFU performance director David Nucifora
Assisting Cullen will be Kurt McQuilkin - who returns as Leinster's defense coach, and extends his interim contract to a two year deal. Ex-Leinster hooker John Fogarty will be the scrum coach taking over from Marco Caputo - whilst head of academy Girvan Dempsey is temporarily in charge of the Leinster backs until after the World Cup when Ireland's skills coach Richie Murphy is promoted.
CEO Mick Dawson is excited about the appointment:
Leo's status as a player is beyond question. He is second only to Gordon D'Arcy in terms of senior appearances and he was an outstanding captain and leader on the pitch. Over the last 12 months or so in his capacity with the forwards and indeed over the pre-season as interim Head Coach, Leo has continued to impress everyone at Leinster with his tactical and strategic direction.
This is an exciting time for Leinster Rugby.
We have great talent coming through our Sub and full Academy. We had 25 players called up to provisional World Cup squads and we have signed players during the summer that our supporters can get really excited about.
Cullen's era in charge will begin with Leinster's first competitive outing on Friday fourth of September away to Edinburgh, followed by his first RDS game against Cardiff the following Saturday.
Picture credit: Dáire Brennan / SPORTSFILE