Monday 20 November 2017

Easterby puts Leinster on red alert for Scarlets' visit

David Kelly

David Kelly

Leinster's chances of maintaining their push for an unprecedented Heineken Cup hat-trick may have been hit hard by the defeats against Clermont, but few expect them to expire in the RDS on Saturday.

They are expected to glean the maximum five points against a doomed Scarlets side ahead of the infinitely trickier task awaiting them in Exeter next week.

Presumably, the Welsh side's implosion in Ravenhill last Friday against Ulster should inure the Leinster faithful against any faint-heartedness. However, Scarlets' response to such an embarrassing setback may just deposit its own share of doubt among the home contingent.

Their captain, Rob McCusker, issued a clarion call of defiance that, however impractical it may seem, must still be heeded by those within the Leinster camp.

"We're aware of the permutations and what Leinster need," said the No 8, who is relishing his contest against his "great" opposite number, Jamie Heaslip. "But we have every intention of spoiling things from our end."


Scarlets' 47-17 loss in Belfast has led to some soul-searching, particularly as it followed a 32-3 submission to Ospreys. Many fans are questioning the value of head coach Simon Easterby's summer signings and, although his brother Guy was unaware of any such unrest, he did intimate at the anger rising in his younger brother.

"I find it hard to believe they are struggling with the fans," said the Leinster manager. "I touched base with him on Saturday and he was genuinely p****d off. It will be quite a difficult time to play them, they will be hurting.

"They won't want to come here and perform below 100pc, because they are aware it is such a big game for us."

McCusker has admitted that his side have become too complacent in training of late and, in his maiden campaign as captain, he also assumes some of the blame for being too soft on his colleagues.

"It's just unforgivable, really," he said of some of the sloppiness that has afflicted their recent performance. "Knock-ons and dropping the ball you can't really say anything about, but then you have people out of position because they haven't done enough work.

"We are not taking that. Perhaps we have been too slack on that. We need to know where we are going wrong, so we can learn from it.

"There are a lot of positives still and, if we can cut out the errors, we will be a lot better team than what we are displaying at the moment.

"We have highlighted the need to be more disciplined with the boys and making sure they are on task."

Saturday might be the best moment to display his side's hitherto absent character. "We will see." Leinster have been warned.

Irish Independent

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