Sunday 19 November 2017

Rusty Ross not a problem for Leinster coach O'Connor

Leinster coach Matt O'Connor does not feel Mike Ross (pictured), who thrives on game time, will be rusty after sitting in his civvies last weekend
Leinster coach Matt O'Connor does not feel Mike Ross (pictured), who thrives on game time, will be rusty after sitting in his civvies last weekend
David Kelly

David Kelly

Leinster coach Matt O'Connor has no worries should he decide to pitch ditched prop Mike Ross straight back into his starting XV as his side chase a Champions Cup home quarter-final tomorrow in Coventry.

O'Connor, who also bullishly declared that a fully-strength Leinster would fancy their chances against anyone in a last-eight contest at their RDS home, must decide whether to subtly alter his side from that which demolished Castres last weekend.

Twice this week, he has stressed that this will be a different challenge against a more hardened and defensively resilient side, which may, for example, prompt him to introduce the renowned poacher Richardt Strauss before unleashing the ball-carrying skills of Sean Cronin for the final flourish.

And, with Castres' scrum proving little resistance last weekend, O'Connor knows that the English eight will provide much sterner resistance in what will be a completely different contest.

Recall

Ross, presumably, was deemed less suitable for the running game that ensued from almost the opening whistle last weekend and O'Connor must now decide whether he is worthy of a recall.

But he does not feel that the 35-year-old, who thrives on game-time, may be rusty after sitting in his civvies last weekend.

"Not really," he demurred. "He performed not too badly in autumn off the back of very little rugby. He's been around long enough to know what it might take.

"That's in his favour. The set-piece is going to be very important away from home.

"We're going to make sure we deliver there so we can deliver the pressure, gain entry to the game and hopefully get the scores that can bring us the result."

O'Connor confirmed that a lack of match fitness prevented him from risking either Cian Healy or Sean O'Brien, one of whom could have been registered for this Wasps shoot-out tomorrow.

"They're not very far away and were in the mix this week and just because the magnitude of the game, and the stakes, it probably means they haven't played enough rugby," said O'Connor, who will, Ireland notwithstanding, hope to have the pair in harness for the visit of Dragons next month.

"So they're going to have go get some rugby. I don't know what their plans are beyond Saturday."

The semi-final draw will take place at Stade Marcel-Michelin at approximately 5.15 on Sunday, live on BT Sport and Sky, following the completion of round six.

Irish Independent

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