Ross urges Blues' young guns to seize the moment
Published 13/04/2016 | 02:30
Mike Ross has proven time and time again that he is a man for the long road and his journey is one that has led him to plenty of silverware, but he feels that now is the time for Leinster's younger crop to begin forging a path of their own.
With the bulk of Leinster's first-choice players missing the majority of the season due to the World Cup and the Six Nations, the club's resources have been stretched to the limit, but the fact that they have used over 50 players illustrates their impressive strength in depth.
Players like Ross have tasted plenty of success throughout their career and although the desire to add to that burns as strong as ever, there is an ever-growing sense that if Leinster finish this season as Pro12 champions, it would really signal the dawning of a new era.
"There's a group of us there that would know, that have had that European success," the 36-year old said.
"We've got some new lads in coming along, your Ross Molonys, Josh van der Fliers, the new breed.
"They have to learn for themselves. They've probably watched us do it and I think they're realising what it takes to do well in Europe.
"It's not a case of just turning up, you have to be absolutely on point at all times to do well in the competition. Especially since they made the changes, it's a bit more difficult than it was.
"We still have about ten of the team that won against Ulster in 2012 (Heineken Cup). So there's a good core there, but at the same time they have to write their own chapters, the new lads."
This season's Champions Cup was a baptism of fire for some of Leinster's emerging stars, but playing against teams like Toulon, Wasps and Bath will only heighten their experience for next year.
Ross' importance to Ireland was typified by his absence in the defeat to France, and with Marty Moore (hamstring) still out injured, he also remains a vital cog in Leinster's wheel.
"Your out-half is probably your most important (position), I suppose a bit of self-interest here, but I'd say your tighthead probably wouldn't be too far behind him," he justifiably suggested.
"If you have a bad scrum, suddenly a scrum in the 22 becomes a lineout in your 22 because you have conceded a penalty or whatever and it gives guys an opportunity to relieve the pressure.
"A few bad scrums and if the opposition knows they have you in the scrum they are more likely to take that opportunity. Most penalties you have an option of a scrum and sometimes teams take that."