Amlin Challenge Cup finalists Leinster Rugby have moved quickly to fill the head coach position created by the departure this summer of Joe Schmidt to the Irish international job.
The Kiwi will be followed by Australian Matt O'Connor, who will leave Leicester Tigers to take over the top job at the RDS. In tandem with Tigers director of rugby, O'Connor helped to steer Leicester into the Heineken Cup quarter-finals this season and into the Premiership semi-finals.
The son of a former Australian rugby league professional, the 42-year-old O'Connor has signed a three-year deal with Leinster as the Irish province continue to pin their faith in overseas coaching talent.
O'Connor becomes the fourth Australian to become head coach at the club in the professional era, following in the footsteps of Michael Cheika, Gary Ella and Matt Williams. Schmidt took over from Cheika.
As a player, O'Connor played most of his club rugby in Canberra with ACT and then the Brumbies and was capped at senior level by Australia against Ireland in 1994. He signed for rugby league club the Hunter Mariners in 1996 and played for Paris Saint-Germain in 1997.
He returned to rugby union and in Japan, spending three years as a player and then coach at Kubota Rugby. He then returned to Canberra to coach CA Brumbies and his work was further recognised with three years attachment to Australia A.
He was brought to Welford Road by current Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer for the start of the 2008/09 season. He played a major part alongside Richard Cockerill when Meyer returned to South Africa in early 2009, with Tigers picking up the Premiership trophy at Twickenham and reaching a fifth Heineken Cup Final, when they were beaten by leinster in Edinburgh..
After retaining the Premiership crown in May, 2010, O'Connor became Head Coach in July 2010 and he reached a third Twickenham final in May, 2011.
"We're delighted that Matt has agreed to become Head Coach and we believe that he will be carry on the fine work which has been done over the course of the last eight years," said Leinster Chief Executive, Mick Dawson.
"Matt joins Leinster with an impressive pedigree under his belt at club level with the Brumbies - who were Provincial champions in 2006 - and Leicester Tigers - who have boasted the league's best defensive record (in 2009-10) and most tries scored (between 2008-13) - during his time on their coaching team.
"We were impressed by Matt's vision for Leinster Rugby and speaking to him it is clear that he is excited about the opportunity. We look forward to working with him over the coming years.
"Obviously we're still in contention for three trophies, the Amlin Challenge Cup, PRO12 and British & Irish Cup, and all of our focus will be on trying to end the season on a high in all three competitions."
O'Connor will link up with his new team on 1 July. Before then Leinster will be hoping to add to more trophies to their cabinet by beating Stade Francais Paris in the Amlin Challenge Cup final at RDS on Friday, 17 May, and progressing to a fourth consecutive RaboDirect PRO12 final by beating Glasgow Warriors in Saturday's home Play-Off match.
"I am delighted to join Leinster. The playing staff, coaching team and facilities are first class and I have been hugely encouraged by the hunger within the province to push on despite enjoying an unprecedented period of success on the field in recent years," said O'Connor.
"I look forward to working with the province's established and burgeoning talent from the renowned Leinster Academy and I am also pleased to work with the current coaching team who have played such a key part in the province's success over the last four years.
"At this time my focus remains with Leicester, but I would like to thank the Leinster Board for this vote of confidence and my family and I are hugely excited about starting this new chapter in our lives."
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