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'Stu is the rugby brain behind it all' - Devin Toner on Lancaster's quiet Leinster revolution

By Ian Cameron
Stuart Lancaster has flourished since taking his coaching role with Leinster. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Leinster second row Devin Toner has paid tribute to the contribution Stuart Lancaster has made to the province since the 51-year-old arrived in Dublin in 2016.

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The former England head coach recently extended his current contract with the PRO14 champions until the end of the 2022/23 season and is widely credited with having a huge influence on Leinster’s dominant run in the PRO14 and return to the higher echelons of European rugby in recent years.

“Stu is the rugby brain behind it all,” Toner told Jim Hamilton on RugbyPass’ All Access. “His knowledge of the game and he really loves seeing the younger guys getting better.

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Devin Toner talks to Big Jim:
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Devin Toner talks to Big Jim:

“He talks about it all the time. He’s always learning. He’s always telling us who he’s been talking to and who he’s been learning from and he’s really good at passing it on to the next coach.

“He’s phenomenal in the amount of work he gets through, in the analysis he goes through. He’s been absolutely phenomenal for this club.”

Despite Lancaster being held in high esteem in Irish rugby, he hasn’t enjoyed the same appreciation in his native lands, after steering England to a pool exit at their own Rugby World Cup in 2015. Toner suggested that the short, sharp nature of international coaching meant Lancaster is better suited to the daily grind of professional club rugby, where he can truly imprint his rugby vision on players.

“It’s different for national coaches and provincial coaches. With Leinster he’s in with us everyday. With England, they have a couple of camps. He wouldn’t have enough time to implement what he wants to implement.

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“For Leinster he was able to come in on the ground floor and work with the young guys everyday and work with us everyday and get his philosophies in place. It’s hard in a national set-up to do that.”

Toner also explained the seismic effect that Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has had on his career.

“He went over to Leicester in 05′ and 06′ and he came back to Leinster in 2007, I think it was. I was maybe on a development contract or my first year in the senior squad when he came back.

“He pretty much came back with a whole new way of calling a lineout and he revolutionised how we called it. I came in as a 20-year-old learning off him and it’s been phenomenal for my career.

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“His analysis of the opposition and his philosophy of how to call a lineout was brilliant for me.”

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'Stu is the rugby brain behind it all' - Devin Toner on Lancaster's quiet Leinster revolution

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