Thursday 29 September 2016

Victor Costello: Leinster players will have felt the full wrath of Leo Cullen

Victor Costello

Published 11/09/2015 | 02:30

Leo Cullen will demand a lot of his Leinster players
Leo Cullen will demand a lot of his Leinster players

When Leinster have been at the their best and winning trophies, the attention to detail has always been at a high level.

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The standard of performances that were set in the squad was adhered to with military detail.

The reason for this was that when the younger players got their chances, they would understand what is expected of them, fit into the team and benefit throughout the game from the experience and knowledge of the senior players.

This apprentice system took years to create and was centre to the success Leinster enjoyed.

In last week's column, I spoke of the advantage that Leinster have playing the next period away from the focus of the media due to the World Cup but there has to be a serious onus on the senior players to perform.

It is a struggle for them to be missing out on World Cup glory and a player is respected for having international ambition.

Leinster had 11 internationals in the squad last week and yet most of the performances came from the inexperienced players. Both the Byrne brothers performed well with Luke McGrath benefiting from every outing. Jack Conan's consistency is impressive in whatever jersey he wears.

But Leinster need more from the senior guys, particularly on the road. This young crop deserve the same high standards and ambition that has won trophies in the past.

Pride

Discipline, urgency and pride in performance are characteristics that Leinster senior players need to put back in both training and match day.

Last week's trip to Edinburgh was an unfortunate loss to a predictable Scottish side. The breakdown area is meat and veg for Edinburgh and any misplaced confrontation in this area was always going to end in penalties against the travelling side.

The players will find out from their coaching staff this week that lack of discipline is unacceptable.

As players, we all suffered from the force of Leo Cullen's anger if we gave away a stupid penalty and I've watched him demand the same discipline from his players over the years as captain.

Now as a coach, Dominic Ryan's yellow card will grate him equally because of all the plans he would have had. This will infuriate Cullen as he can only watch from the stand.

Unfortunately, recent history suggests that the RDS does not hold the same fear as it had two seasons ago. Building a fortress at home requires consistent performances.

Frustrations at home from last season need to be corrected this weekend and fortress RDS needs to be up and running by the time European rugby comes around.

Cardiff had the perfect start to their season against Zebre.

Although the Italian minnows have held the bottom of the league for years, it was still an 11-try outing for the Welshmen.

Dogged

They have always been a dogged team, particularly up front, but their ball-in-hand skills have improved over the last season and will test Leinster's defence.

The wise men of the coaching team will know that they will be afforded a honeymoon period but if performances are scarce the pressure will be on.

The coaching team's experience has been widely recognised for their on- and off-pitch performances through their years of service but they also have experience with the committees they report to.

Transitional periods are always difficult but the Leinster management are smart enough to know they are better off ahead of the eight-ball than behind it!

Irish Independent

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