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total recall for reddan

Leinster scrum-half Eoin Reddan, now 30, is one of those Irishmen, like so many before him, who had to leave this country to make his way in the world.

The Limerick man defied those that judged him as only ever appropriate for first choice for Connacht (2001-2003) or second-place material to Peter Stringer at Munster (2003-2005) to carve out a remarkable career.

When he did take flight from what was seen as 'a perish or change' attitude to his place in the game, it was into the nest at London Wasps he settled as a signing by Warren Gatland six years ago. Truly, he found a home away from home.

It was this move that activated what had been theretofore a stalled, dormant career.

Before he knew it, he had displaced British & Irish Lion Matt Dawson and grew into a Heineken Cup (2007) and Guinness Premiership (2008) winner, captaining Wasps in the absence of Lawrence Dallaglio.

He stayed for four seasons.

From the 2007 Heineken Cup defeat of Leicester Tigers, Wasps marched mercilessly through their domestic league at the start of the following season, also beating Munster (24-23) at home and Llanelli Scarlets away (33-17) in the Heineken Cup.

Defending champions Wasps were at the peak of their powers. They feared no one or nowhere. They must have felt unstoppable. Then, they travelled to Clermont-Auvergne in December of 2007 and were singed 37-27 in a classic Heineken Cup encounter.

"Yeah, I have played in Clermont before," Reddan recalled. "It was a very tough game. They finish very strong. That's something they focus on at home.

"They have a massive crowd and great support, like Leinster and Munster would have over here.

"Like any French ground, if you play good rugby, sometimes they get behind you, which is a bit strange," added Reddan, in setting a goal for all of his teammates.

It is also a place where champions have to prove themselves, where gifted young players like Eoin O'Malley, 22, and Fergus McFadden, 24, if selected for Sunday, will find out whether they have what it takes to play at what is effectively international level in all but name.

There is no room for comfort or complacency within Leinster and, certainly, not anywhere on the road to France. The 'Gallic' clubs love to get on a roll. Once the Clermont juggernaut moves into top gear, as it did against Toulouse in the French Top 14 at the weekend, it can become an animal with a killer instinct.

"Discipline is key. We all know that in Europe. We have a good defence. We really need to trust it and not give them a chance to kick goals," stressed Reddan.

The last thing Leinster wanted to see was the appointment of an unproven referee open to intimidation and influence from a hostile home crowd and the clever captaincy of Aurelien Rougerie.

"We've got Wayne Barnes, which is probably a good thing. He is well able to stand up to a hometown atmosphere and he is very experienced.

"You can fall nine to 12-nil down and the game not really be in anyone's favour down there, particularly with the threat (Morgan) Parra poses as a goal-kicker."

However, there were definite signs of Leinster playing the game at a pace in the last quarter against the Scarlets last Friday night that could stretch and strain the French champions.

"As the game wore on, we got back into our patterns more. We didn't get out on the pitch during the (last) week.

"It probably showed in the way we gelled as a team. If we could have played for another 20 minutes, I don't think anyone in blue would have been complaining."

In the summer of 2009, Reddan signed a three-year deal to return to Ireland as first choice scrum-half for Leinster, his third province. The competition for places has been tightened by this summer's signing of Boss.

It has given greater competition to a man who has never had it all his own way.