Sunday 11 December 2016

Off-colour Blues staring down barrel of a lost season

Michael McCarthy

Published 15/04/2015 | 02:30

Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor face's a summer of uncertainty if his side fail to perform against Toulon on Sunday
Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor face's a summer of uncertainty if his side fail to perform against Toulon on Sunday

Most of the time, reaching a European semi-final would automatically mean an acceptable season for an Irish province. Leinster could lay an egg in Marseilles on Sunday, and we'd still look forward with cautious optimism at the very least.

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This year though, if Leinster don't perform against Toulon, we're into a summer of serious speculation about the future of Matt O'Connor and the direction the team are heading.

They have made the semi-final of a nominally tougher tournament than the Heineken Cup, but it's the Pro12 form that has the naysayers out in numbers. That's where Leinster are at the most consistent, their most dominant. "That's our bread and butter", the players tell us, and probably tell themselves.

After Sunday's defeat to the Dragons, they look certain not to make the top four for the first time in 11 years. They've managed just one win in their last six league fixtures, a home game against Zebre.

A European run is great, but going so off the boil at a crucial part of the league season is an indictment of the coach and players. If the Toulon game goes against them this weekend, it's a lost season.

Irish Independent

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