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Shane Jennings: It's tough to take the criticism ahead of Munster showdown


Shane Jennings

Shane Jennings

Shane Jennings

There was a problem with the chair Shane Jennings was given at the press conference.

Most would have just ignored it and taken the questions shot at them.

That wouldn't be him.

The man is particular about what he does, about how he does it. Mr neat and tidy is also Mr right and wrong. He should have been named Frank.

There is no room for misunderstanding in his mind and he doesn't take long to cut to the chase.

The recent negativity over Leinster's form has meant the injured openside had to sit and suffer through the rehabilitation of a serious hamstring strain and the criticism sent the way of his club.

Now, he's back to play and to let his always forthright opinion be known.

"From a players point of view, I think you guys don't have the greatest understanding of what goes on in a team environment," he shot.

"But you're obviously paid to have your opinion and your interpretations of it.

"When there is criticism coming for the style of play and not fully understanding the reasons or what's going on behind closed doors, it is tough to hear because you take it personally.

"Like if I had a go at you for your journalism. You'd take it personal. It is the same principle. I was hurting like everybody else," he said.

"Granted, I don't read papers. But you hear things and I certainly don't want any of our coaches or any of our players picking up criticism.

"We're not overly happy with some of the game we've played and some of the style we've played.


"We've dug in at times with the personnel available and a lot of the guys were carrying knocks that people didn't know about and were fronting up and were hurt and were getting through games."

There are signs of recuperation from the improvements against Connacht last Friday and the comeback players, like Jennings, even though Kevin McLaughlin's return lasted just 46 minutes.

"There are no people that want to be top of their Champions Cup pool table and top of the League and winning games more than this group.

"The reality is there are good teams around and there are good players that want to kick lumps out of us.

"That has happened on occasions and players have to take responsibility, more than anybody, because players are the ones out on the pitch."

This is where a committed defence of coach Matt O'Connor entered into Jennings review of the season to this point.

"As much as coaches want to implement strategy, when it comes down to the game, its players who have to take that responsibility," he said.

"Yeah, it's been a tough couple of weeks. But, thankfully, we're not in the worst position.

"We're still in contention Europe. We are still in contention in Europe and it's an important couple of weeks coming up because we are playing some good teams who are in and around us in the league."

The train of thought moves on to Munster at Thomond Park for Friday. The Ireland Camp brings a sense of uncertainty over who will be available and disruption to preparations.

"By the time you get a game plan it's going to be tough, but Munster are in the same position.

"It's the way this game has been put there and that's the reality. The last time we played them they beat us up."

That can't happen on his watch.