Tuesday 15 October 2019

Lancaster: Leinster will need O'Brien at his best for semi


'The Tullow Tank' Seán O'Brien. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
'The Tullow Tank' Seán O'Brien. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Leinster need Seán O'Brien at his best in Sunday's European semi-final against Toulouse, according to Stuart Lancaster.

'The Tullow Tank' has yet to get back to top form after a succession of injuries and was dropped from the Ireland squad during the Six Nations before being recalled to face Wales, but the ex-England coach says he is slowly getting his confidence back.

With Dan Leavy and Josh van der Flier out for the season, the province need O'Brien to find his mojo and Lancaster believes the signs are there that he'll produce a big performance against their fellow four-time European champions.

"He knows that without Dan or Josh there, we need him," he said.

"We need him playing in that No 7 role so he can completely focus the attention on that.

"The good thing is, on the bench, you've got the likes of Max (Deegan) or Caelan (Doris) - young players with great experience.

"He's getting there. Another good week this week and I think he'll be flying on Sunday.

"You can't underestimate how long it takes for a player to get over that particular type of injury, but I think when I look at him now moving, when I look at him training and I look at his collision impact... I thought it was much better in the Glasgow game."

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Meanwhile, ahead of Saturday's meeting with Munster, Saracens coach Mark McCall says Billy Vunipola will have to get used to being booed by fans after he received a warning from the club and the RFU for his homophobic comments on social media.

"He has got to deal with that, and we've got to deal with that as a group," he said.

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