Thursday 22 March 2018

Schmidt needs bedding-in period to get Leinster firing, insists Costello

Hugh Farrelly

GIVE it time. That was the message from former Leinster No 8 Victor Costello following the province's disastrous 29-13 defeat in Treviso last weekend.

The Italians won their opening Magners League match at the Stadio di Monigo against the Scarlets but Leinster, with players such as the Lions quartet of Rob Kearney, Luke Fitzgerald, Gordon D'Arcy and Nathan Hines in their ranks, went in as favourites only to be blown away by the home side.

It was Leinster's second defeat from three Magners League outings and has placed new coach Joe Schmidt under early pressure ahead of this weekend's trip to Murrayfield as he seeks to build confidence before the visit of table-topping Munster the weekend after.

However, Costello says it is far too early for the blame game -- from within the squad or outside -- and says Schmidt needs time to bed in, particularly with the complications of injury and the Ireland player management programme.

Leinster were without their injured captain Leo Cullen in Treviso while other senior players such Jamie Heaslip and Brian O'Driscoll were rested under the player management scheme, with the result that the visitors were short on rallying figures when the pressure came on.

"Any new coach takes a while to bed in," said Costello. "He (Schmidt) needs to get to know his players, read their body language, find out what they like to do, what areas they like to be in.


"Don't forget he coached Clermont against Leinster last year in the Heineken Cup and he could have had certain ideas about the strengths and weakness of Leinster and he could have been wrong. So, he'll have his ideas. It will take a while to sort it all out.

"Winning obviously helps a lot in this situation and it's been a tough start to the season, particularly going down in Treviso, but not having the likes of Brian and Jamie and Leo is hugely significant because they are the backbone of the team.

"He (Schmidt) said something afterwards about being disappointed in Leinster's performance but at this stage of the season, you need to stand by your players and I thought there was a bit of a blame game which I don't like to see," added Costello.

"But it takes a while to sort these things out. I like to think the bedding-in period is around three months, particularly with top players coming back in at different times.

"So I wouldn't be in any way saying Leinster are anywhere near a crisis. Leinster are old and experienced enough to look at the bigger picture, but they do need to get back to winning ways as soon as possible."

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport