Friday 21 July 2017

Eoin Reddan vows to fight for his Leinster future

As Leinster eye foreign recruit, scrum-half veteran remains focused on battle for the number nine shirt

Eoin Reddan believes he still has what it takes to deliver the goods for Leinster
Eoin Reddan believes he still has what it takes to deliver the goods for Leinster
David Kelly

David Kelly

The strains - and boy, how they strain - of Adele's omnipresent ode to schmaltzy self-indulgence, 'Hello', wafted through Leinster's HQ just as they entered their team meeting.

The doors were firmly closed behind them; no room for anodyne angst here.

"Well, there's always excuses there when form isn't up to scratch personally or collectively," says Eoin Reddan.

"But the culture we're trying to develop here is a no-excuses culture."

At 35, the Limerick native has perhaps long since had his sporting passport franked with the obligatory "veteran" status especially beloved of media types who have themselves already hurtled beyond that age.

A date of birth is not an excuse either, though; Reddan could conceivably slump into a metaphorical armchair and contemplate his life after rugby.

After all, he has been studying on and off for more than a decade with just such a future in mind but in body there is still much more work to be done.

Reddan was one of a number bruised by his (albeit limited) World Cup experience and, with Isaac Boss also struggling to divine any sense of form too, Luke McGrath was belatedly afforded meaningful European action after being unjustly shunned during Matt O'Connor's troubled reign.


However, he will not wilfully grow old gracefully - he refuses to go gently into that good night.

"I trust Leo Cullen has a plan for the season and I have to lead by example when I'm not playing," he admits. "At the same time, it's pretty simple really, I come in and train as hard as I can.

"I know Leo pretty well so I have good faith in what he's doing. I'm not so much trying to work out what's going on or anything.

"I just come in and do my job and try and help the team as much as I can. That's the plan."

But he will not simply become a touchline cheerleader, content to play the role of good-humoured mascot.

"That's certainly not the role I'm playing," he insists, although he is cognisant that time waits for no man.

McGrath may miss out this weekend with a medial ligament strain to the knee damaged when Ulster's Nick Williams unwittingly collapsed upon him during the 8-3 RDS win last Friday but he is already being tentatively pencilled in for a return when Leinster go to Toulon on round three of the Champions Cup.

"Well, there will be a season when that happens," says Reddan of the challenge of being usurped by those younger than he. "I'm more concerned, as I always have been, with how I approach each challenge that I'm faced with in terms of who I blame, do I blame anyone, how do I carry myself afterwards?

"And when I'm finished and I look back, that's probably what I'm going to look at more than achievements and things like that. I value putting the team first, I value dealing with ups and downs in a certain manner regardless of the outcome, and that's what's important to me.

"I'll help any of the young lads, and I've absolutely no problem with that, but then in training I'll be trying as hard as I can as well. It's a dual thing.

"Trying to get people's head around that is quite difficult, even friends of mine. But that's the way it is for me. Then I can look back and say I put the team first and I was still trying my best for myself as well.

"I've never won anything with any team that hasn't had people putting the team first. I think you need people that are going to do that and I think that we have a lot of good people here, we have a big squad. I'm enjoying my rugby and I came back from the World Cup in a pretty good spot and I'm feeling pretty good. I'm certainly not panicking."

Neither are Leinster. Their European future may be precarious but it is via the Pro12 where their future Champions Cup status will be determined.

As they contemplate a step-up when they visit the home of champions Glasgow Warriors this weekend, Friday's win against Ulster will offer some succour.

"It's more what was good, what was bad, and what we need to improve on this week," he says in the aftermath of the gritty 8-3 win.

"The last thing we want to do is start getting worried about results and becoming happy when you might play alright and get a result. It wouldn't be good enough this week or in the weeks ahead.

"There's a kind of feeling of job done but let's knuckle down and improve on a few areas, then hopefully be in a better position again next week."

He may be nearer the end than the beginning but the key for him, it seems, is to act like he cannot discern the difference; the season may end with him out of work - Isaac Boss may also leave as the province look overseas for a scrum-half - but his focus remains unswerving.

"The priority for me is to focus on my rugby, that's how I've always approached it," he says simply. "I never really like answering questions about it or anything like that. I like to just get on with what I'm doing each week.

"There's no real difference to be honest with you. I've been going to college since I'm 22 for when I'm finished.

"It's not that I turn around one day, and say, 'My God, I'm finishing in three years, I need to do something'. I've always been playing rugby with, I suppose, an open mind in terms of possibilities of outside the game.

"I don't come bouncing in every week when I'm not playing. I have to think about it, and make sure my head is in the right space.

"Otherwise, there's no real change for me. Just continue on with my day-to-day as well as I can, and put the team first as much as I can."

Reddan would never be one to pen paeans to regret.

Irish Independent

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