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Kane Douglas makes his mark for the Blues

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A Leinster maul crossed the try line resulting in Shane Jennings scoring his side's first try. Guinness PRO12, Round 10, Leinster v Connacht. RDS,

A Leinster maul crossed the try line resulting in Shane Jennings scoring his side's first try. Guinness PRO12, Round 10, Leinster v Connacht. RDS,

Shane Jennings, Leinster, is tackled by Jack Carty, left, and George Naoupu, Connacht. Guinness PRO12, Round 10, Leinster v Connacht. RDS

Shane Jennings, Leinster, is tackled by Jack Carty, left, and George Naoupu, Connacht. Guinness PRO12, Round 10, Leinster v Connacht. RDS

ils Muliaina, Connacht, is tackled by Michael Bent, left, and Kane Douglas, Leinster. Guinness PRO12, Round 10, Leinster v Connacht. RDS,

ils Muliaina, Connacht, is tackled by Michael Bent, left, and Kane Douglas, Leinster. Guinness PRO12, Round 10, Leinster v Connacht. RDS,

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A Leinster maul crossed the try line resulting in Shane Jennings scoring his side's first try. Guinness PRO12, Round 10, Leinster v Connacht. RDS,

Leinster are going to have to bring the niggle and the nastiness provided by Shane Jennings against Connacht down to Munster on St Stephen's Day.

While Dominic Ryan and Jordi Murphy bring athleticism, aggression and unbridled physicality to the number seven jersey, Jennings is a master of the nitty, gritty.

He is Leinster's Alan Quinlan.

The veteran knows how to get in under the skin of scrum-halfs and loose-forwards by playing the game right on the line of what is legal and what is illegal.

They call it experience. This encompasses a variety of the seen and unseen, the heard and unheard. There is nothing like having eyes in the back of your head in this game.

"The best part about Shane's game is his communication. We thought in a review of the two 'Quins games we were probably a little bit quiet," said O'Connor.

"That urgency and intensity Jenno' brings whenever he is involved in the games creates a little more accuracy and edge from the blokes around him."

He set the standard through word and deed and it had a positive enough effect to withstand the loss of Kevin McLaughlin in the 21-11 defeat of Connacht at The RDS.

ENTHUSIASM

"That level of chat and enthusiasm that the back row created certainly drove the tight-five to be a little bit more physical, a little bit more accurate and gave us a little bit more presence."

For the first time, Wallaby second row Kane Douglas looked like the real deal as a hard-hitting enforcer with a huge engine, responding to what O'Connor called "the chat and the drive" of Jennings, McLaughlin and Jamie Heaslip.

"It is the best he's played for us. He gave us a real physical presence which was always going to be important against Connacht," said O'Connor about his fellow Australian.

"He put in some great shots at breakdown and defensively and provided us with a little bit of intimidation which was going to be important.

"He's gone back-to-back seasons. He's still coming to terms with the game in the northern hemisphere.

"There's a lot more set-piece. He's driving and pushing and hitting rucks and tackling a lot more than he would in a Super Rugby environment.

"It was always going to take time. He didn't have a pre-season. He put down a marker and showed the Leinster fans what he's going to provide for us for a long time."

Forget The Champions Cup for three more weeks. It is all about the here and now. And that means the Guinness PRO12 League.

"The four points was very important to us. We knew that we needed to put out a performance we were proud of at The RDS."

Munster dropped from first to third by failing to post a score in the second-half at Scotstoun, Glasgow's 21-18 win taking them top until The Ospreys smashed Ulster 31-20 for a bonus-point and the right to plant their colours at the summit.

ATTITUDE

This puts the Munster-Leinster match under the microscope on Friday night with one point separating third from Leinster in fourth.

"It is about making sure that we go to Munster with the right attitude," pushed O'Connor.

There is a score to be settled from the Southern Province's physical supremacy in their 34-23 whipping of Leinster back on the first Saturday in October.

"We were caught out a little bit early in the game at The Aviva and the lads will be acutely aware of what they are going to have to deliver on Friday.

"There's good things for us to get our teeth into this week. We were poor in the first-half and we got bullied around the fringes.

"We saw against Clermont, they're going to go to those channels. They're going to try and get momentum and go forward in and around the ruck.

"We're going to have to be very, very good there."

The Connacht Interprovincial provided a barometer for O'Connor of where Leinster are post-Europe three and four.

"I thought there were genuine improvements there given where we've been the last couple of weeks," he reviewed.

"Our intent was much better with what we were doing at the breakdown and getting off the line and tackling."

It is this attention to the unglamorous details of the game that will stand Leinster on solid ground in Limerick on Friday night.


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