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Reddan hits back at critics

THE always articulate Eoin Reddan was in feisty, fighting form ahead of Leinster's Pro12 League trip to runaway leaders Ulster on Friday night.

The scrum-half was determined to counter claims that the financial power of the big French clubs is tipping the Heineken Cup balance away from the Irish provinces.

"After one weekend? I suppose that is very Irish to think that we are all rubbish after three or four years of very good success," he said.

"I don't think that is why we lost at the weekend. We lost because of specific reasons, performance-based, that we could have done better at."

He took particular exception to the idea that the Irish clubs have been 'punching above their weight' in a competition where foreign clubs have far greater playing resources, at least on paper.

"Maybe some of the English teams were under-performing or the French teams were under-performing. To say we were punching over our weight when (we won) two Heineken Cups (is wrong).

"People worked hard and got into that position - not just our province, but other provinces as well."

The Limerickman was not exactly in the mood to nod his head at the widespread observation that the PRO12 League "fills the space" in between Heineken Cup matches.

"I disagree with that. The Rabo is massive for individuals in terms of getting selected for bigger games. There is also a huge focus on performance not so much as outcomes.

"This week we have a job to do. It is to do certain things that are asked of us and those standards usually lead to victories.

"We have a massive responsibility to take to the pitch this week and to get the detail right and be very accurate in everything that we do.

"If the result comes from that - great! I don't think, by any means, that the Rabo 'fills a space'," he said.

The players are keen to stop the rot of two defeats. Three on the spin would be a disaster for a club of Leinster's stature, especially in an inter-provincial where Ulster would be almost out of sight in the league before Christmas.

Reddan wants to look straight ahead at Ulster in the PRO12 League not back over his shoulder at Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup.

"When we get back to the Heineken Cup, we will think about that then. We are twelve points behind Ulster now in the league," he said.

"You keep pushing me that the Heineken is way up there and the Rabo is way down there. You are way off the mark," he responded to one reporter.

"It is important to win the games in the Rabo, just for the Rabo, not for anything to do with the Heineken. That is the reality for the players. It is not like that.

"Joe is true to his word about focusing on what's coming up. It is an unusual enough situation to have lost two big games in a row.

"It is up to everyone individually to look at themselves and try and bring something very good this weekend that pulls us all back together.

"I think we were soundly beaten on Saturday and we are aware of that. It is not that it could be any bigger than it was even if we had won at the weekend. It is still a major goal of ours to win the Rabo."