Wednesday 17 January 2018

Schmidt hails Blues doggedness and praises Sexton for playing through pain

Hugh Farrelly

LEINSTER coach Joe Schmidt said he was proud of his side's win over a dogged Glasgow in Firhill yesterday and praised out-half Jonathan Sexton for playing on after injuring his ankle.

Sexton was hobbling after rolling his ankle half an hour into the game but played his part in ensuring Leinster's passage to the knock-out stages, with the carrot of a home quarter-final if they account for Montpellier in the RDS next weekend.

And, with the exception of long-term injury victim Brian O'Driscoll, Schmidt is banking on having all his frontline stars, including Sexton, available.

"We risked leaving out Richardt Strauss and Luke Fitzgerald, and we're hopeful that those two guys might be available next week," said Schmidt.

"Jonny rolled his ankle and was obviously a little bit affected, and a little later on he stepped on Jamie Heaslip's boot and rolled it again. Then he was hobbling and grumpy. The other boys have to play a little bit harder when Jonny gets grumpy so it's not a bad thing.

"I was delighted to get the result today, absolutely delighted," Schmidt added. "I know there were imperfections and I know that my players have gone on record in saying that I am always fussy, but I said to them that I don't really care about the imperfections today.

"I said I think that you deserve to be proud of what you did, because you deserve to get the four points.

"And we'll come away from this and glue ourselves back together in six days' time and front up at the RDS to chase that home quarter-final that we really, really want. We're delighted to be one of the eight (quarter-finalists) but we have to roll up our sleeves now to win it again because no-one is going to say 'you had it last year so we're going to give you a head start'."

Man of the Match Sean Cronin said Leinster's experience away to Montpellier in their opening game proves they cannot make any assumptions about next weekend.

"They are extremely tough, we know that from the first game," said Cronin. "We got the draw and you could say we were a bit lucky, we came back into the game in the last 20, 25 minutes.

"We did struggle a small bit and they are an extremely physical team, they will look to maul us, a big physical pack and it will be no different next weekend."

Glasgow coach Sean Lineen was proud of his side's effort against the champions and said it points to a greater sense of self-belief.

"They are the European champions and we still could have won," said Lineen. "Our guys are very disappointed, which suggests a mind-set change. Leinster have outstanding ball-carriers, they have 15 decision-makers on the ball and 15 loose-forwards when they are defending.

"It was an outstanding effort from our players."

Irish Independent

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