Wednesday 18 October 2017

Fogarty: We have benefitted from not having disruptions

John Fogarty credits a full pre-season for Leinster’s improvement Picture: Sportsfile
John Fogarty credits a full pre-season for Leinster’s improvement Picture: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

For all of Leinster's shortcomings last season, it's easy to forget how disrupting the World Cup period was.

With Leinster supplying Ireland with the bulk of their squad, Leo Cullen was forced to delve deep into the talent pool.

Several players were thrown into the deep end and although they struggled at times, this season has proved that they have learned lessons along the way.

The defeat to Clermont will irk the players as much as the coaches and although it was another harsh lesson about what it takes at the top level in Europe, next season's mission will be to prove that they have learned from that as well.

With the entire squad having undergone a full pre-season together, confidence is high as Leinster look to finish the season with the Guinness PRO12 title.

"You get them from day one and you hit the ground running at the end of the three games in pre-season," scrum coach John Fogarty said.

"Without a doubt, there is some disruption that a World Cup causes.

"I think we're just better placed for it.

"Over the last couple of seasons, we've seen those younger players really step up, and they've established themselves within the group in terms of their performances and week to week, how they communicate, chat and lead in.

"They've done that quite well so we're probably better equipped from an experience point of view as a coaching staff, but also as a playing group we're better equipped to deal with the losses."

While Leinster's sole focus is on the PRO12, the Lions tour looms large as does Ireland's trip to USA and Japan.

With five of the province's squad set to travel to New Zealand, a host of others will be included in Joe Schmidt's squad.

There has been some suggestion that the likes of Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip would benefit from having a summer off but as Fogarty rightly pointed out, it doesn't always work out like that.

"If I can answer that as a player, any time there is an opportunity to play for Ireland and go on tour, they're going to want to do it," he insisted.

"You get the opportunity to go and put on the jersey. I think they'll naturally want to do it.

"Looking at the bigger picture, there's a lot of parts to it, it would depend how well they come back from it.

Condition

"Physically, you look at someone like Jamie, he's been in really good condition for such a long time. He's someone that doesn't struggle massively with injuries so again it's probably a little bit different to Rob even.

"For Jamie, for him to arrive back and be fit, I don't think a summer off is something that he needs to have.

"I think physically he's in a good place, injury-wise the list of injuries he's had is quite small, so if he's fit and healthy and able to play, well then why not?

"Hopefully Jamie, with the experience he has and the quality of player he is, he returns back, because he's such a big leader for us."

The challenge Cullen faces from now until the end of the season is to strike the right balance between playing the young players who helped Leinster seal a home-final and the more experienced campaigners.

It's a task that many of his counterparts would love to have.

Irish Independent

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