Tuesday 28 March 2017

O’Driscoll hits back

Brian O'Driscoll hits back at Leinster's
Brian O'Driscoll hits back at Leinster's "armchair" critics. Photo: Sportsfile

Hugh Farrelly

BRIAN O'DRISCOLL has hit back at Leinster's "armchair" critics ahead of tomorrow's eagerly awaited Magners League showdown at the Aviva Stadium and says it is up to the players to take on the responsibility of turning their season around.

Leinster have lost three of their first four league games and after last weekend's defeat in Edinburgh, O'Driscoll and his colleagues came in for heavy criticism, including suggestions that they showed a lack of interest during the 32-24 Murrayfield loss.

Yesterday, after he was named in the team to face their unbeaten southern rivals, O'Driscoll responded to the criticism while stressing the importance of players upping their performances.

"We don't really pay much heed when we're being patted on the back, like we don't pay a huge amount of heed when people are getting on our backs," he said. "I don't know anything about people seeing us as not being interested.

"They can sit on their armchairs and look at one game and judge people off that. If they come to training day-in, day-out and see the work that's done in the gym, I think they'll see there's quite high interest levels there.

onus

"We're trying to put the wrongs right and make sure we put a stop to the few defeats we've had. We've gone in, in nearly all of our games, leading at half-time, and not started well in the second half, so maybe there's a bit of an onus on us to do that.

"We feel we have left a lot of our best rugby behind us in the last few weeks and we have a point, as players, to prove, in that we haven't become a bad team overnight. There is a huge onus on player responsibility this weekend to front up individually and then as a team, collectively.

"We haven't changed dramatically our coaching methods or tried to adopt a new philosophy in the game. It is just a case of individual players having a responsibility to perform and I don't think that has been the case so far."

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt will wait until after today's captain's run before deciding on Jonathan Sexton, who was named at out-half alongside Isa Nacewa.

Shane Jennings is rested as he seeks to recover from a couple of knocks ahead of next weekend's Heineken Cup opener against Racing Metro and Schmidt has named Jamie Heaslip as captain in Jennings' absence.

Irish Independent

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