Victor Costello: Leinster should look to utilise Reddan's expertise to help offset McQuilkin blow
Published 02/09/2016 | 02:30
When Leinster lost the Pro12 final, Connacht went straight into party mode and Leo Cullen's side slipped out the back door home to Dublin and dispersed for the summer.
With Connacht losing many players, they won't wear the favourites' tag again unless they make it to the final.
For Leinster, apart for the first 15 minutes of that defeat, they were outclassed by a well-drilled Connacht side that had a very disciplined and confident approach to a game that was at a level they have never witnessed before.
With the World Cup distractions last season and the injury toll, Leinster could provide many excuses but the facts are that the value of the club and players has fallen off in the last 12 months.
Leinster aren't solely at fault as a poor international season did not help the cause of the front-liners and with a Lions tour at the end of this season every game will count.
The value of the Pro12 always comes into consideration in August every year and the truth is it will always play second fiddle to the Champions Cup.
The contest would have been worse in the Heineken Cup days so if the poorly organised Champions Cup continues in its haphazard decline, the value of the Pro12 will increase.
For clubs, players and the crowds that make the games significant as well as a Lions tour and a Pro12 final on home soil in Dublin, the League's profile should go up a notch or two in its 16th season.
Every campaign will have a silly season where during the months of March to May, there will be rumours as to who is going where and for how much. This period can be worse if the team is under-performing but by mid-summer things will settle down and focus turns to pre-season and the cleansing of the previous campaign.
This year's attrition at Leinster has probably been its worst; Luke Fitzgerald, Eoin Reddan, Ben Te'o and Ian Madigan played their part in recent years success.
Kurt McQuilkin's unfortunate decision to return to New Zealand for personal reasons will hurt this squad the most. McQuilkin has had a big impact on this club for more than 20 years and hopefully there will be another phase in the future when things settle down for him.
With the talk of McQuilkin's replacement causing concern, it's hard not to think what Eoin Reddan's years of experience could add to the team.
Reddan has experience captaining the province but also playing in the Premiership for Wasps against Leinster and would be quite a resource to be utilised before he goes into the real world.
Defence is a mindset and most defence coaches have the skill and knowledge but are also passionate and motivational. Reddan fits these characteristics.
Treviso this evening will be an easy start for Leinster. This time last year the coaches' selection hand was always forced by the depth of the Irish World Cup squad.
Through the process there were some great players unearthed - Ross Molony, James Tracy, Luke McGrath to name a few.
These players need to build from last season and add to a team that will be built around the likes of Isa Nacewa, Jonathan Sexton and the rest of the experienced players.
Leinster need to show a different mindset in their performances. After Treviso there are some tough games ahead. If they can start well they can gather an uninterrupted momentum into Europe.
Healthy competition will always benefit the squad and Leinster still have the best squad in the Pro12.
The standards within this squad have been doubted and this evening's game should boost the confidence of a team still capable of so much ahead.