Wednesday 28 September 2016

Influx of support in Llanelli can help offset loss of Ruddock and McCarthy

Victor Costello

Published 16/10/2015 | 02:30

Mike McCarthy (left) will be a big loss to Leinster after his World Cup call-up
Mike McCarthy (left) will be a big loss to Leinster after his World Cup call-up

Success can be a double-edged sword. Mike McCarthy and Rhys Ruddock will be Ireland's gain, and a massive loss for Leinster, who were once more asked to provide the national side with key performers.

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Ruddock, just back from injury, was always set to make an impact for whatever team he lined out for when fit.

The good news is that Leinster should have strong support for tonight's game against top-of-the -table Scarlets in Llanelli, with the inflow of Irish support for the weekend.

For Leinster, there is some gratification to the fact that both Ireland voids will be filled by their players.

It is also noticeable that the lines of communication between Leinster and Ireland management have improved significantly over the past couple of months.

A mutual respect between country and province will benefit both parties, particularly when it comes to the back-to-back European games.

If Leinster were to remain competitive during this disruptive time and, in turn, maintain confidence, the Champions Cup pool draw, which was so jarring to fans and players, may not look so daunting.

Leinster's performance against the Scarlett's in this venue last season was less than encouraging, though they still could have won.

Scarlets moved home from Stradey Park to Parc y Scarlets seven years ago and the move epitomised the financial and logistical trouble the Welsh clubs were in at the time.

The dull surrounds of Parc y Scarlets provide no atmosphere for the home team.

The Leinster squad would have revelled in the last two games in the RDS, and the introduction of new caps in the home environment gives great confidence to the players and introduces them to the home crowd.

Different to cup campaigns, winning away in the league is vital for securing the points that matter towards the end of the season.

For the youngsters, winning outside their comfort zone is vital to their progression this season.

Scarlets have won their last seven games in the Pro 12 and are always difficult to play at home.

However, they are not the team of old and Leinster's record against them up to last season was impressive.

Today marks a run of 16 games that will define Leinster's season, so victory over the Scarlets can provide an invaluable psychological boost.

Not only that, Scarlets are leading the pack, albeit very early in the day. But they have a 100pc record this season, and to be the first team to hand them a loss could have untold benefits for all involved.

It would somewhat offset the loss of McCarthy and Ruddock, and claiming victory in such a difficult environment would see the younger guys grow by the foot in stature.

Furthermore, for the coaches to have a first competitive away win under their belts would also go a long way.

Throughout the years, foreign signings have always been a gamble.

Noise

You can gauge their success by the noise that awaits them by the fans in the RDS or the Aviva.

With Leo retired and Mike McCarthy called up, Leinster have lost a hard experienced edge.

Hayden Triggs will no doubt fill that gap this season and the sooner he is integrated into the team the better.

His experiences should almost match that of Rocky Elsom and Brad Thorn and, when the pressure is on, this will count.

Although the World Cup has affected the availability of players at this point of the season, the Irish performances will lift all provinces.

And if Leinster can keep standards high, this part of the season might be the only serious test of their resilience.

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