Reddan focus back on Montpellier after Ireland selection
EOIN REDDAN is poised to make his 50th Heineken Cup appearance when Leinster take on Montpellier at the RDS this weekend.
The fact that it is only 50 is a reminder of how long the 31-year-old had to persevere before establishing himself as a top-class scrum-half in the club and international, games.
He made his Heineken Cup debut for Munster, as a replacement against Treviso, a little over eight years ago, but, with Peter Stringer an institution in the No 9 jersey, Reddan never got a run of games with his native province, playing the majority of his rugby in the All-Ireland League with Old Crescent.
When Warren Gatland took him to Wasps in 2005, Reddan once again found himself as understudy to a marquee international, in this case Matt Dawson, but he forced his way into the side and started all nine games on Wasps' march to the 2007 Heineken Cup title.
He usurped Stringer in the Ireland team at the World Cup later that year and, having made the switch to Leinster in 2009, picked up a second Heineken Cup medal last May in that epic Cardiff final.
Although Reddan now faces stiff competition from Conor Murray heading into the Six Nations and has been rotated with fellow international Isaac Boss at Leinster, the 37-times capped Limerick man remains a central figure for province and country.
Murray's rise has been remarkable and he took the Ireland starting jersey from Reddan at the World Cup. However, while the Munsterman carries a greater physical threat, Reddan's cool head, assured all-round game and ability to dictate tempo make it a tight race between the two scrum-halves to see who lines out against Wales.
With yesterday's Six Nations and Wolfhounds squad announcements marking the first step in the post-World Cup process, Reddan is conscious of the importance of not letting concentration waver for Montpellier. "We're going to prepare as normal," stressed Reddan. "To me there's no issue, it's going to be a very important week and we'll need a big performance."
There is speculation that Montpellier will bring a second string side to Dublin, which, as Castres showed last weekend, can make French sides extra dangerous as fringe players set out to impress.
Reddan is adamant that, whatever team the visitors field, there will be no lack of motivation in the Leinster ranks. "Look, we don't know what kind of team they're going to bring over but there's enough competition within our own squad that everybody who plays will want to put their foot forward for future games. We have to win.
"Last weekend against Glasgow was very tough. It's a tough place to play because they have a very good record there. But we have to set our own standards as players and we probably felt we were not as hard as we could have been.
Reddan acknowledges the importance of playing in Dublin, both against Montpellier this weekend and, ideally, for a post-Six Nations quarter-final. "If you look at our games, home and away, and what's gone on ... you look at Bath home and away and Glasgow home and away and it (home advantage) is obviously very important.
"The expectation is higher at home, but we give every team we play there respect and you need that little bit of fear factor, with confidence, to get the performance you want."