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Reddan calm over rivalry

WHEN Isaac Boss was ruled out for eight to ten weeks with an elbow ligament injury last week, Ireland international Eoin Reddan must have been licking his lips at the prospect of what is just around the corner in the Pro12 League and the Heineken Cup.

Just as Boss was removed from the equation, former Ireland U20 nine John Cooney moved into contention, first, with a solid outing against The Scarlets, then with a man-of-the-match impact against The Dragons on Saturday.

There is strong evidence to suggest Cooney, 22, has progressed from the nervous, edgy player of 12 months ago - he was quickly replaced by Cillian Willis during the World Cup - into a more mature and match-ready man this season.

Reddan almost neatly side-stepped the question of the sudden comfort of third-choice scrum-half Cooney in the cockpit. "Not just John, but across the board, everyone played quite well the other night. It was good, the reaction from the week before," he replied.

No doubt, Reddan will have to deal with the pressure exerted by Cooney. It is something he is well used to, whether for club or country.

"He (Cooney) is doing very well. He works very hard at his game. There are four of us here now - myself, Isaac, John and Luke McGrath. There is good constructive work done. The important thing is that we're all improving all the time. Things are positive for Leinster at nine, both now and going forward."

In fact, the Limerick man was ready-to-go for Round Two. A slight knock and the form of Cooney convinced coach Joe Schmidt that the former Gonzaga College pupil would play back-to-back.

It could be three on the trot on Saturday. The retention of Cooney would come as a slight knock-back for Reddan as Schmidt contemplates which internationals to bring back and which to leave out for another week.


"As a player, you are told what you have to deal with and you get on with it. You work hard in the gym and on the track and try to bring something new to the season when you get back," he said.

The veteran of 45 Ireland caps, now 31, was not slow about handing out the advice in public that he has doubtless passed on to Cooney and this season's Ireland U20 scrum-half McGrath in private.

"You have to have the confidence to play what's in front of you and make decisions based on what the coaches want too," he offered. "It is generally the big games that make the big difference. John got 10 to 15 minutes in the Heineken Cup final last season.

"That was good. That is the kind of stuff that helps. That is where the game management comes from."

The Italians Benetton Treviso are trying to build a very French pride for their home matches. This can be gauged from their opening day defeat of The Ospreys (12-6), the defending champions, and their second-day fall to Munster (19-6) at Thomond Park last Friday.

"They're very good, especially at home. It will be a bit of a wake-up call for all of us (Ireland internationals) going back in," reflected Reddan.

"They have a very big pack. Hopefully, the scrum will do well. If it is under pressure, obviously it makes my job harder to get the ball out of there," he said, hinting that it will be Reddan, not Cooney, to start in Italy.