Sport Leinster Rugby

Friday 22 September 2017

Matt O'Connor demanding improvement across the board

Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor believes his team need to be more clinical this week
Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor believes his team need to be more clinical this week
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Two defeats from their opening three games has been a cause of concern for some Leinster supporters but Matt O'Connor insists that the bigger picture must be taken into consideration.

Cardiff Blues arrive in Dublin this evening with a similar league record and O'Connor is demanding a response from his players in front of what he hopes will be a packed RDS.

"It was a pretty disappointed camp off the back of the performance last week. We beat ourselves to a large extent," the Australian coach conceded.

"We weren't clinical enough - we needed to make better use of the opportunities that we had in the game.

"We played pretty good in the first half by and large but we needed to make that dominance count on the scoreboard."

Both of Leinster's defeats have come on the road but O'Connor isn't panicking just yet.

"You can look at it as a snapshot but the reality is that if we look at last season as the example, the two toughest places to go - and throw in Munster and Ulster as well - were Connacht and Glasgow, so from that end you can say it is a bit disappointing," he said.

"But at the same time, we've had two very narrow defeats to two good sides on the road. You have to weigh that up.

"Of course you would have preferred a better start to the season but thankfully we have tonight to make amends.

"You always want to be at home and the guys love playing here. We play our best rugby here so from that end, it gives us a little bit of confidence going into the game. But you'll get what you deserve.

"We're not going to win because we're playing at the RDS. We need to make sure that the performance actually mirrors what we've spoken about all week. If we do that, then I'm sure we can put out a quality performance," he added.

Flanker Rhys Ruddock echoed his coach's sentiments, saying: "We want to right the wrongs on the road but coming off the back of a loss, it's always nice to play at the RDS which is a bit of a fortress for us."

Kane Douglas will make his debut for the province alongside Devin Toner in the second-row and O'Connor believes that he has a "quality natural footballer" on his hands.

"He's settled in brilliantly. We wanted to involved him as soon as we could. He's had a couple of weeks off and we thought this was a pretty good opportunity especially because Dev and Macca (Mike McCarthy) had a tough hit-out last week and a short recovery period this week."

Gordon D'Arcy starts at outside-centre, which is a reflection of Ian Madigan's form at No 12, and O'Connor admitted that it is a partnership that he is considering going forward.

"We saw him in the semi-final and the final for large periods in the 13 jersey. If the combination works then we will see more of him there and if it doesn't we'll have to look at what other options we've got," said the coach.

Cardiff have a point of their own to prove and O'Connor doesn't need any reminding about the strengths that they have within their squad.

"They've increased the quality of their squad and they purchased well in the summer," he said. "They've a new coach on board to try and drive them up the ladder. We have to make sure we fix the things from last week.

"They've got quality all across the board and guys that can turn the game in the instant.

"We'll have to be proactive for the 80 minutes and control our own destiny and not let it in the lap of the Gods like we did last week."

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