The Leinster machine seems to be stuttering a bit under Nienaber


Leinster play La Rochelle in the quarter-final of the Champions Cup on Saturday, while they are the leading team in the United Rugby Championship standings.

Barely a week or two ago, the Irish club giant launched a remarkable second half performance to beat the Bulls 47 – 14 at the RDS arena after trailing 14 – 12 at halftime.

However, Brian O’Driscoll believes that Leinster may no longer be as sharp in attack under Jacques Nienaber’s watch.

The 45-year-old Dublin native, who shone at center for Ireland in his playing days, refers, among other things, to the club’s latest victory of 36 – 22 against the Leicester Tigers; a team that was defeated 55 – 24 last year.

Nienaber, who held up the Webb Ellis trophy with the Springboks in 2019 and 2023, is currently filling Stuart Lancaster’s senior coaching shoes at Leinster.

“I don’t think their attacking game is as fluid as it was in Stuart’s days; especially if you look at the games from last year and in 2022,” O’Driscoll said on a broadcast of Off the Ball said. “

According to the former Ireland captain, this may be attributed to the South African coach’s penchant for defensive work.

Nienaber, who won 69% of his tests with the Springboks, wants to make his defensive mark at Leinster.

“Defensively you can give the team a bit more space because it will take time to get used to a new system,” continued O’Driscoll.

He did admit that the players seem to know what is expected of them on the field.

“Things will soon go smoothly – after all, Leinster are a smart team – but we will have to wait and see if they will stand strong in big play-off games.”

Head coach Leo Cullen is pleased with Nienaber’s appointment.

“We all want to learn more from Jacques and someone like Sean (O’Brien – defensive coach) will especially grow under his able supervision. As a team we can only get better,” he said at the time.

  • Leinster have currently scored 22 tries in the Champions Cup, while the club boasts 60 tries in the United Rugby Championship.