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O'Connor: It's not a matter of losing faith

There are two sides to every coin; at least two to every argument.

So far, the noise outside has been about whether or not Leinster should keep faith with Matt O'Connor.

How long will it be before O'Connor loses his faith in the players? "It's not a matter of losing faith," said the Australian.

"It is about making sure that you're accountable for what you deliver to the group and to yourself. There's going to be ups and downs in relation to that.

"But, they're working hard. They understand what is required and we're pretty optimistic we'll be able to deliver that on Saturday and moving forward into some very big games."

Forget Christmas. The next three weeks could well define Leinster's season, at least in Europe with Wasps beginning to look the part in The Premiership.

This is not a job for the feint-hearted. The criticism comes as quickly as the garlands in an environment where winning is the bottom line.

"That's the world we live in. The players understand that," he said.

"They would be the harshest critics there are. They don't try to be poor. They don't try to miss tackles and drop the ball and miss lineouts.

"The reality is that everyone is working really hard to deliver a performance at the weekend."

The wind has been taken out of Leinster's European and Ireland's Six Nations sails by news from O'Connor that Cian Healy and Seán O'Brien will not be back for the province for rounds five and six of The Champions Cup.

"They won't make Europe for us unfortunately," he said.

"Certainly they'll be running around training with the group at the end of January. They should be back playing for us by mid-February."

There was better news for Martin Moore's contract negotiations as he continues his return to play from a shoulder operation.

"Marty is in the process of signing a new deal and there should be an announcement in the next couple of weeks."

While these important issues rumble on in the background, O'Connor is busy narrowing in on the threats presented by Ulster tomorrow.

"Momentum is important," he stated.

"We took a step backwards last week in relation to our standards and our performance. We need to build on the good bits in that game and rectify the poor bits.

"We need to put out a performance that is very worthy of beating a good Ulster side at the RDS.

"Our lads love playing there, a fantastic atmosphere, full house a great occasion and we need to live up to our end of the bargain in relation to that."

Surely, Ian Madigan will extend his limited time at fly-half with Fergus McFadden's aggression a welcome resource and Ben Te'o likely for impact off the bench.

Tight-head Mike Ross needs game time to re-establish his place in the pecking order with Tadhg Furlong improving and Moore set for a return against Cardiff Blues next week.

"Ulster have a very good set-piece, they're well-organised," reviewed O'Connor.

"They have some very dangerous runners like (Ruan) Pienaar and (Paul) Marshall, then good inside backs like, (Luke) Marshall, (Stuart) Olding and some fantastic finishers out wide," he added.

"They pushed us very hard in the three games they had with us last year.

"We will have to be very good to earn the result."


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