While Leinster are expected to name Australian lock Kane Douglas as a new signing this week, Head Coach Matt O’Connor stated the Waratahs player fits the profile as successor to Leo Cullen but a deal has yet to be done. With Cullen having announced he would step away from playing earlier in the season, O’Connor spoke about the long process involved.
Having been capped 14 times by Australia, Douglas’s move will rule himself out of the 2015 World Cup but is likely to follow fellow Wallaby Ben Moen who joins Toulon in the summer, to the Northern Hemisphere.
“He’s a guy we have identified. The deal hasn’t been done. If that gets across the line it would be positive for us. He fits the profile what we were looking at and we have an announcement in the next couple of weeks hopefully.
“To be fair, we knew we were going to go after a high-profile lock early in the season given Leo (Cullen’s) departure to the coaching staff. From that end we identified a skill set we were after and a handful of guys and we are pretty close to making an announcement to that.”
The Province however are no closer to finding a replacement for Irish centre Brian O’Driscoll with O’Connor alluding to attracting a high-profile player from the Southern Hemisphere with the World Cup next year, with a replacement for scrum-coach Greg Feek also in the pipeline.
“The market is very tight at the minute. We have exhausted most of the avenues of filling that slot for next year but there is still a bit to go for us being 100% comfortable with our squad in that area. We work on that area every day so that we fit that slot up.
“We are pretty close to signing and announcing something in relation to that (Greg Feek’s replacement). We are a long way down the road on all of those, so it shouldn’t be too far away.”
This week’s game against Edinburgh raises the now weekly questions about Luke Fitzgerald’s fitness. The winger pulled out of the Leinster squad before kick-off against Ulster after being named on the bench and O’Connor insists they will see how Fitzgerald goes in training.
“It’s a week to week proposition. We hope to have him on the park training and if he pulls up alright after that, he will certainly put himself in the mix. It is becoming quite tight relative to what is around the corner, so he needs to get out and play.”
Cillian O Conchuir, Pundit Arena.