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Eoin's focus on Connacht


Eoin Reddan in action for Leinster. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Eoin Reddan in action for Leinster. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Eoin Reddan in action for Leinster. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

WHATEVER else professional rugby is about, the hard sell comes near the top of the list of priorities for the provinces around Christmas time.

It is inter-provincial hour, a two-speed challenge bound up in the traditions of the game on this island, one at home, one away for each of the four clubs.

There was a sell-out at the RDS for Ulster last Saturday. By Monday, there wasn't a ticket to be found for the mighty Clan Terrace at the Sportsground for this Saturday's clash between Connacht and Leinster.

The revitalised ground is filling up fast as the Blues contemplate revenge for their loss to the Westerners there last season.

When coaches and players assembled for the weekly Leinster press briefing out in UCD on Monday, the weight of questions came hot and heavy about the pending decision to be made by Jamie Heaslip and the injury to Seán O'Brien.

This is where the two-big-stories-at-a-time nose of a journalist comes into direct conflict with the one-game-at-a-time mantra preached and practiced by every professional club.

The interest over the price on the head of one and the damage to the shoulder of the other could have served as a distraction for Leinster.

"We've a game as well at the weekend lads, just in case you're interested," said scrum-half Eoin Reddan, at the end of his four minutes and 51 seconds of media interaction.

It said everything about the immediate nature of the game. Now that O'Brien's diagnosis has been made, there is still a story burning a hole in the heads of the journalists and their readers.



Everyone wants to know, as soon as possible, where two players, who can make all the difference between winning and/or competing for trophies, will reside from next season.

The experienced Reddan knows the game survives on ticket sales. There are times when Leinster is the biggest show in old Dublin town.

The former Connacht half-back – he played there from 2001-2003 – is fully aware of what the game means to the fourth province too.

He has been around the block and back on his travels through Connacht, Munster (2003-2005), London Wasps (2005-2009) and is now into his fifth season at Leinster.

Forget all the factors about where Leinster and Connacht stand in the pantheon of European superpowers, despite the Heineken Cup giant- slaying act in Toulouse.

There is a gulf in achievement and resources that prevents any reasonable stab at a compare and contrast aspect to figuring out where they sit.

The reason Leinster have been able to climb to the summit and stay there is because they have managed their resources well, recruited very well and built a culture based on bitter and sweet memories.

The players have been trained to tunnel their vision. They know all about Heaslip and O'Brien. They just don't want to dwell on them to the detriment of what will happen in the Sportsground on Saturday.

This is why Ireland prop Jack McGrath refused to air his view on whether he wanted Heaslip at Leinster next season.

"We won't talk about that. That's none of my business," he said.

He has Connacht on his mind this week.