Reddan eye on home tie
Published 19/01/2011 | 05:00
Try telling a Munster man this week that there is solace to be found in defeat.
Eoin Reddan scoffs at such talk. And why wouldn't he? The only Munster-born former winner of the Heineken Cup left standing in this year's competition appreciates the values of winning far outweigh the notional benefits of losing.
"It is huge," says Leinster's scrum-half of the 2007 win he shared with the London Wasps.
"Massive. The hunger to win more comes from winning it. People like to say you learn a lot when you lose, but you learn a hell of a lot when you win, too, like how much you want it.
"There is a dressing-room full of people in there who have done that and people want that again. That is a long way off. We need to get through Friday and anything can happen between now and the run-in."
Reddan, from Limerick, knows that a win this Friday against Racing Metro will ensure that success in a home quarter-final will become far more attainable than a potentially hazardous trip to one of their leading rivals for European honours.
Every advantage must be dearly cherished.
"We have often spoken about the experiences of Irish teams in Europe and we know how important it is to have a home quarter-final in this competition.
"It is huge. We have to produce a very big performance on Friday night to get the win.
"Racing are a very proud team at home. All French teams are, regardless of what is coming next. They have a lot of big names in their squad who all want to compete for places, so they will be competitive at home."
"At scrum-half you have Jerome Fillol or Nicolas Durand, both very good players. At out-half you have got Juan Martin Hernandez, and they have massive ball carriers across the pitch, with some clever players in behind."
Reddan himself is not guaranteed a start this Friday, no more than Jamie Heaslip or Gordon D'Arcy, should they recover from injury. In essence, the latter pair would probably struggle to regain their place anyway, given the impact of their replacements last season.
Isaac Boss, as he did against Clermont in the magnificent performance before Christmas that copper-fastened their pre-eminence in qualifying, will probably return as coach Joe Schmidt looks to a less attacking, slightly more conservative away-day approach.
"That's a huge part of it," says Reddan of the almost voracious competition infecting this group of players. "There is massive competition across the squad, which is great and guys know this competition and the way it goes. You can't win anything in January, you can only lose something.
"Leinster are a very successful team, but there are a lot of people in this dressing-room who have won nothing for Leinster, myself included. When someone asks what you have added to Leinster, until you have got a medal and a trophy to show for it, you can't really put your hand up and say you have added anything.
"We were trophy-less last year. I know we had a few new signings and we have a few more this year, so if we have a trophy at the end of the year, then a few of us can put our hands up. Until that day, that's the way it is.
"You are trying to work out whom you are playing, if you lose on Friday, if you win on Friday. The quarter-finals, the way the seedings are working out, will be huge games. There are going to be eight teams there all capable of winning it.
"You are guaranteed six big hitters (group winners) no matter what, so it is going to be very tough."
Crucially, Schmidt's men must ensure that home thoughts from abroad do not undermine their ability to win.
"You just go out and try to win."