Friday 24 November 2017

Jimmy Gopperth - The focus is on winning trophies

Jimmy Gopperth in action during squad training
Jimmy Gopperth in action during squad training
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Jimmy Gopperth's decision to join Wasps hardly came as a surprise, given the return of Johnny Sexton, and the New Zealander insists his impending departure hasn't been a distraction from his preparations for Leinster action.

"I don't think it was difficult to deal with," he said ahead of tomorrow's Pro12 game against the Dragons at the RDS (3.0).

"The difficult part was having the option and thinking about leaving.

"At this time in my career, I want to be pressing for a starting spot. In saying that, I don't want to be a burden on the great talent coming through at Leinster. Those guys coming need the time to develop as well.

"If I get the opportunity to go somewhere else and be in a first team, I want to take it. Fortunately for me, I had an option and it's one I'm looking forward to."

Before he departs, silverware is his main priority and ahead of what coach Matt O'Connor described as a "crucial period", a win against 10th-place Dragons would be an ideal start.

"We've got the opportunity we can put ourselves in contention for two cups. That's what my whole focus is on and the team's as well," Gopperth added.

With 12 Leinster players in the Irish squad, O'Connor has been forced to make nine changes from the team that started the Champions Cup draw with Wasps.

Fergus McFadden has recovered from a rib injury while Ben Te'o also returns. Dave Kearney is named at full-back with Luke Fitzgerald on the bench. Shane Jennings skippers the side from the back-row.

Even without a bulk of first team players, Leinster should have little difficulty in seeing off Dragons.

Verdict: Leinster

Leinster - D Kearney; F McFadden, B Te'o, N Reid, D Fanning; J Gopperth, L McGrath; M Bent, R Strauss, T Furlong; T Denton, K Douglas; D Ryan, S Jennings (c), J Conan. Reps: A Dundon, P Dooley, J Hagan, M McCarthy; J Van Der Flier, J Cooney, C Marsh, L Fitzgerald.

Dragons - J Tovey; T Prydie, P Leach, J Dixon, H Amos; D Jones, Jo Evans; O Evans, T. Rhys Thomas, B Harris; A Coombs, R Landman (c); J Thomas, N Cudd, N Crosswell.. Reps: R Buckley, B Stankovich, D Way, I Gough, J Benjamin, R Rees, A Smith, M Pewtner.

ref - B Whitehouse (Wales)

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