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Matt O'Connor: If Robbie Henshaw turned up on your doorstep, you wouldn't say no

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Robbie Henshaw

Robbie Henshaw

Robbie Henshaw

"If he turned up at your doorstep, you wouldn't turn him away."

This was Leinster coach Matt O'Connor's straight-forward answer to the ongoing speculation on whether Leinster can sign Robbie Henshaw for next season.

The fact is Connacht's most prized home-grown asset will turn up on Leinster's doorstep, The RDS, tonight and try to show what all the fuss is about.

O'Connor went on to say: "My understanding is he's under contract at Connacht.

"I'm sure we can go and ask (the IRFU). I don't know what answer we'd get."

The answer to their number thirteen succession planning will be staring them right in the face this evening.

"I thought he (Henshaw) was outstanding in the Autumn for a guy who had not played at that level before.

"There is definite growth in his game. He is only 21. He certainly looked physically capable at that level which for young guys is half the battle," reviewed O'Connor..

The Leinster coach shied away from the head-to-head between Henshaw and Luke Fitzgerald, clearly viewing the latter as a natural left wing.

This is a different Connacht to the many that have gone before them for many reasons; three of them are the prospect of Henshaw, Bundee Aki and Mils Muliaina combining.

That is why O'Connor has to handle the pressure of enriched expectations from Leinster's bulging trophy cabinet.

DIFFERENT

"It's a different yardstick, I'll say that," he said. "Connacht are a point behind us, they're having an unbelievable season.

"Munster, Ulster, where are they in Europe? Ask the question, but we're getting beaten up.

"People will write what they write. The expectation is there, rightfully so because of how good a group we've got and what we've achieved."

The very personal nature of the Interpros makes a review of Connacht's recent activity almost irrelevant to O'Connor.

"It's a little bit of what they deliver against us and what they deliver against The Scarlets or The Dragons - is that the same beast?" he asked.

"You're playing against the PRO12 champions, Leinster, one of the best teams in Europe over the last little period.

"All of those things make it a massive day wherever you go, in Europe or the Pro12. Everyone wants to beat Leinster.

"There's an edge everywhere you go because it's their biggest day in the league, the biggest crowd - it's their grand final.

"That's what we'll be up against with Connacht in how desperate they are to beat Leinster."

And does he fell the pressure?

"Of course you feel pressure, because that's the nature of the game," said O'Connor.

"You want to be better, you want to be winning games, you want to be scoring tries. That's the reality of it.

"I can't catch the ball for them. I can only put them in a position to do it. The reality of it is that we've used nine centre pairings this year, which is unbelievable.

"That makes it very hard to get that connection with your outside guys and what's going on in front of them."


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