Luke Fitzgerald explains why he would hold off on starting Jordan Larmour and James Lowe in the Champions Cup
Leinster's squad depth is the envy of almost every side in Europe and the festive period saw a host of players stake their claim for a place in the team for the final two Champions Cup pool fixtures later this month.
Leinster fielded two vastly different XVs against Munster and Connacht over Christmas but still recorded two victories, and Leo Cullen has one more opportunity to study his charges - against Ulster at the RDS on Saturday - before the team returns to European action.
Two players who stood out in the inter-provincial derbies were back three stars James Lowe and Jordan Larmour.
New recruit Lowe played a big part in the win at Thomond Park before similarly excelling against Connacht in his home debut, with his sumptuous reverse offload in the build-up to Max Deegan's try a particular highlght.
However, even Lowe's brilliance was upstaged by Larmour, whose scintillating counter-attacking score to seal victory in Limerick will likely win the Try of the Season award.
The Kiwi recruit and the 20-year-old breakout star are now pushing for a place in the first team for the Champions Cup clash with Glasgow in two weeks, but Luke Fitzgerald thinks that neither player is ready to make the step up just yet.
Speaking on The Left Wing, Independent.ie's rugby podcast, Fitzgerald pointed to some defensive teething problems that need to be fixed before the devastating attacking duo are unleashed on European foes.
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"They both look like special players going forward," Fitzgerald said.
"Lowe looks class and strong as well. He is getting involved off nine. Larmour, what a try. He is a special player. He can step off both feet. Great acceleration.
"What I will say about the two lads is that they will find it hard to get into that Leinster back three because they miss a lot of tackles. It is a really harsh thing to say. The Conway try [on Stephen's Day], he didn't even have to change direction. Just a small point, fullback [where Larmour played] is a hard place to defend.
"Lowe looks really up for the contact and really strong, but he isn't finishing many tackles off for me. I reckon inside Leinster, his tackle stats won't be great. Larmour just got his footwork wrong at fullback, his decision-making was fine for me. He needs to get his footwork right. It is a really hard tackle [on Conway] because you are in a lot of space. You need to be stepping forward into that tackle so that Conway has to step inside laterally because it brings in your support players even if you miss him.
"He'll get that right but at the moment if we are talking about Champions Cup, I think Isa Nacewa gets in for me."
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