IRISHMAN Conor O’Shea has emerged as a shock contender to take over from Stuart Lancaster as head coach of the England rugby team.
The former Ireland and London Irish full-back is one of several names thought to be on a short-list drafted up by the Rugby Football Union [RFU], who haven’t given up hope of luring Joe Schmidt either.
Ideally, the organisation want a coach with “international experience,” but with Schmidt ruling himself out of the running already, they’re starting to consider their back-up options after Lancaster departed the role on Tuesday.
O’Shea may not have international experience as a head coach, but he would bring a wealth of other credentials having been Director of Rugby at Harlequins for the past five years.
The Limerick native is highly regarded at the RFU having worked for the body between 2005 and 2008 as Director of Regional Academies, in which his role involved selecting and monitoring young talent from across all of England.
He also served London Irish as captain, Director of Rugby and Managing Director, while he earned 35 caps for Ireland before injury cut his career short.
Incidentally, O’Shea’s father Jerome – a Kerry-man – is a legend of GAA having won three All-Irelands with the Kingdom during the 1950s.
Other names in the hat for the England job include Jake White, Jim Mallinder, Mike Ford and Rob Baxter, but bookies make Schmidt a 20/1 outsider for what is the highest paid job in world rugby.