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Injuries add to insult for Joe

LEINSTER will probably have to plan for the first round of the Heineken Cup without their injured full-back Rob Kearney (lower back) and lock Quinn Roux (shoulder).

Coach Joe Schmidt is counting the cost of further carnage -- Gordon D'Arcy should be able to make a recovery from a rib problem - to a squad already badly fractured by injury.

The list of long-term absentees is headed by Sean O'Brien, Luke Fitzgerald, Eoin O'Malley, Dave Kearney, Rhys Ruddock and Dominic Ryan.

Now, Kearney, Roux and D'Arcy are highly unlikely to be risked against Munster in front of close to 40,000 spectators in the Rabodirect PRO12 League on Saturday.


Kearney took a shot from behind to force his exit from the Sportsground on Friday night. South African import Roux may have done more damage to his shoulder than was first thought and Gordon D'Arcy's rib injury has come back to haunt him.

There was a maxim that Roy Keane clung tight to as his career matured into full bloom: "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail". Leinster coach Joe Schmidt was smart enough to signpost the worst possible scenario in Connacht on Friday night in the build-up to the game.

He was quick to hammer home the point late into that night: "Preparation equals performance," he offered, in part as an excuse, in part as a plea for leniency as he prepared to give his players a rocket of a review this morning.

This signposting was a follow on from his admission that preparation had been "fitful" for the Edinburgh the previous week. He could have papered over the cracks of a solid victory.

Leinster are shipping players and points like never before in his reign. Schmidt will have his skills as a coach and as a man manager tested to the fullest extent on two fronts this week.

The European champions are five days away from the renewal of the Munster rivalry and 12 days away from a date with battle-hardened Exeter Chiefs in the first round of the Heineken Cup.

The deepening injury crisis at the club has been compounded by a woeful defensive record which currently stands as the worst in the Rabodirect Pro12 League.


Leinster have conceded more points (138) and more tries (18) -- this averages out at 3.6 tries-a-game -- than any other club in the competition.

This must have a knock-on effect on the confidence of the players and the trust they have in each other and in the system in operation.

This is not to suggest the system needs a radical overhaul. It is only as strong or as weak as the application, physically and mentally, by the players in charge of what happens on the field.

They alone can take ownership once they cross the whitewash.

It is simply unacceptable to take a five-tries-to-nil beating from what was admittedly a fired-up and skillful Connacht.

At a time in the game when physical development has been pushed to the limit, the all-important ingredient of mental sharpness is key to implementing Schmidt's fast style of rugby.

If you want to play quickly, you have to think quickly. Football intelligence, peripheral vision and an instinctive understanding of the game are all primary assets for a Leinster player.

On Friday night in Galway, there was little in the way of good instinct with and without the ball. Players made bad decisions and Connacht made them pay for it.

Schmidt made seven changes in the first League match, 11 in the second, six in the third and 10 in the fourth. There are sure to be another raft of them against Munster.

The Ireland internationals will return with few of them all that worried about their place in the team. Expect to see as many as another 10 changes this week.