Reddan fears being left out in cold with Siberians
Published 06/05/2015 | 02:30
Oh, the glamour of it all. Leinster's final home game of the season has descended into an unruly scrap with those giants of the European game, Treviso.
The Blues, seen as arguably the best European team of all time as recently as 2012, are in danger of missing out on the top tier altogether next season.
If this season has been underwhelming, to say the least - based on previous evidence, a fair chunk of their players would describe trophyless seasons as 'failure' - next season could be an embarrassment for this championship team.
Descending into the second tier of European competition would be an unmitigated disaster for this collection of high achievers, at least 20 of whom are realistic contenders for World Cup honours later this year.
Last weekend, Siberian side Enisei-STM booked their place in next season's Challenge Cup; Leinster could yet join them if their desperate league form maintains its current trajectory and they fail to garner enough points from engagements with Treviso and Edinburgh.
Then again, if Leinster's cluttered collection of internationals and emerging stars couldn't deal with a trip to Rodney Parade this term, then perhaps they deserve to be sent to Siberia.
Leinster are usually primed about now to state their pre-eminence; instead, they are resigned to an undignified battle to retain mere respectability.
Ask veteran scrum-half Eoin Reddan can he ever recall entering the final month of the season without the prospect of a trophy at the end of it and he is forced into a long pause.
"I think it's happened me once," he says eventually. . . "so it's the second time since 2005."
And never since his return from Wasps in the summer of 2009, since when he has collected five winners' medals and three silver consolation prizes.
As he faces into the final two regular league games of the campaign, the rewards are obviously less tangible but, he argues, the consequence of failure more profound than at any time during his six-year Leinster stint as the club contemplate a novel challenge.
"It is a new situation for us to be facing," the 34-year-old concedes. "I was just thinking about it the other day, it's odd when you step back and look at it but when you're in it, this Treviso game is very important, in some ways it's more important.
"Some games you're playing in are important because of the game itself, some games you live with the consequences - actually live them.
"You win or lose a final and that's it, it's done and dusted, you live with your own haunted memories of it if you lose.
"But you lose a game like next week and the week after, you actually live the consequences of it. You have to live them. For a long time, a season.
"So it's about taking that on board, it's about making it mean something and being able to narrow that big focus down into something small.
"For me, it's my passing or kicking. Watching the European Cup final at the weekend, how good are the top world-class players on the big day at delivering the smallest little thing?
"For us it's no different this week. It's a big picture, big consequences, but it comes back to doing something very small under pressure right."
Three players - second row Mike McCarthy, out-half Jimmy Gopperth and flanker Sean O'Brien - didn't train with Matt O'Connor's side but none of the trio are believed to be injury doubts for Friday's game.