O'Driscoll welcomes fresh approach
August 19, 2010
Leinster's Brian O'Driscoll soaks up the Aviva Stadium that will play host to two of the province's fixtures this season © PA Photos
Leinster coach Josef Schmidt's enthusiasm for the game is rubbing off on his squad as they prepare for the new season.
The 44-year-old, who took the reins at the Irish province this summer following Michael Cheika's departure to French side Stade Francais, has made a significant impression on his new charges with veteran centre Brian O'Driscoll welcoming the fresh approach introduced by the New Zealander.
"He's been very easy-going. Obviously he has his own ideas on how the game should be played. It's nice to hear a different voice," the Ireland captain told the Irish Times. "As fantastic as Michael Cheika was, the change is probably a good thing for the squad. A new man is coming in, throwing new ideas at us and challenging us in different ways and that's important.
"As a professional player, if you've played a long time, you need to be continually challenged. I don't know anyone who is the complete player or anyone who knows it all. You need to continue to keep learning until the day you retire.
"He puts a lot of emphasis on you making your own decisions as well. It's not a case of spoon-feeding you. He's a thinking player's man. So he definitely challenges you and it's something we as a back-line are looking forward to working with on a weekly basis. (It's about) just trying to get fit and strong and get skill levels up to speed. I'm not sure when comeback is targeted. I'll wait for coaching staff at Leinster and Ireland to come to me."
Leinster finished top of the Magners League earlier this year only to be beaten by the Ospreys in the inaugural Grand Final, but flanker Shane Jennings is hoping that the new coach's passion for the game can propel the side to glory this season.
"I think Michael [Cheika] was quite an intense character, who worked very, very hard and nearly ran the place like a business," said Jennings. "He had a business background and that's the way he was, whereas Joe is probably a bit calmer from first impressions.
"In talking to Isa [Nacewa, who Schmidt coached at Auckland Blues] he just massively loves the game more than everything else and that comes across in training when he's running around the whole time, reffing games and playing games. Genuinely, I know it sounds cheesy, but he genuinely does have a love for the game and he wants to make a good impression on us and he's doing a good job on that from the start."
Schmidt, who has previously coach Auckland in New Zealand and more recently worked as an assistant at French side Clermont Auvergne, will begin his tenure on Friday night at Donnybrook with a friendly against English side Wasps.
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park
The latest Week in Pictures takes in photographs from the Rugby Championship, the Top 14 and the southern hemisphere domestic scene
As Ray McLoughlin prepares to celebrate his 75th birthday, Huw Richards pays tribute to the man and the selectors who had the wisdom to bring him into the Ireland fold