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Leinster need to find their feet quickly at Stoop


Leinster training

Leinster training

Leinster training

CONOR O'Shea has often talked, in the past, about how he wants to entertain and enthral the home supporters at The Stoop.

The last thing you do with an animal so intent on looking for the game to break open is to feed its instinct.

Okay, Quins have not been able to put out their best team or their best form in the November international window.

Their shallow squad has made them weak and open to exploitation in The Premiership, most recently by Bath.

But Matt O'Connor is nobody's fool: "Their current form is largely irrelevant. They have four or five guys who are very instrumental away with England.

"Their form in Europe's been brilliant. They're two from two," he said.

"That's our focus in making sure we're ready for the challenges that go with that."

It wasn't that long ago Leinster were seen as the epitome of what O'Shea aspired to as a heads-up, play-it-as-you-see-it outfit keen to exploit weakness wherever they found it.

Leinster have become more pragmatic under Matt O'Connor. The aesthetics are not there. But, the focus on the game plan is in place. It is a template where the early phases are pre-planned and the handbrake released from the third recycle onwards.

The province has yet to provide that definitive performance this season. That is why it is instructive to look back one year.

Leinster travelled to Northampton for round three with The Saints rampant at Franklins Gardens up to then.

It was there the Irish uncovered a potent, overpowering eighty that had the English club reeling.

It was a curse and a blessing for O'Connor.

"The way we beat Northampton was very pleasing," he recalled.

"But there was a lot of aspects in the game that were brushed aside because of the result.

"That probably caught us out the following week."

O'Connor would like to think this is the time for a reminder not of what Leinster have done this season, but what they can do because the game is all about tomorrow not yesterday.

"It's about being accurate in what you do. It's no bigger issue than that," he said.

"Away from home in Europe, you've got to make sure your discipline is good, you've got to make sure your set-piece is good, you've got to make sure you look after the ball.

"If you deliver those things, away from home, you manage the scoreboard, you manage field position, you give yourself every chance."

The certain return of a host of Ireland internationals should open up options to Leinster in how they threaten Harlequins.

"We need to make sure that we deliver on our plan and we do things on our terms, so that we can manage the outcome."

Verdict: Leinster