Friday 17 November 2017

'What we have here is something special'

Reddan eyes 'unfinished business' as he looks to keep up relentless glory drive It's about doing your best every single day

Leinster's Eoin Reddan in action against Ulster
Leinster's Eoin Reddan in action against Ulster
Eoin Reddan gets ready for Leinster's final fling

Marcus O Buachalla

Amid all the hype and the hysteria around the Pro12 semi-final against Ulster, Eoin Reddan, one of Leinster's favourite Limerick men, snuck in to the 100-cap club without much fanfare.

Reddan has been with Leinster since the 2009/10 season and while his career has included spells at Munster, Connacht and London Wasps, the RDS has become his home, so it was fitting that he led the team out.

"It's difficult to comprehend that I have played that many games, but when Jamie asked me to lead the team out I was humbled by the gesture and then by the reception," he said.

"It was a special occasion, there is no doubt about that. I was actually due to win that cap against Treviso a few weeks before but my shoulder injury put paid to that notion.

"I have loved my time here and have no intention of moving on but it's not about personal accolades – we have unfinished business this weekend."

He sounds like a man on a mission and why wouldn't he be? The aforementioned shoulder injury put his season in doubt only a few short weeks ago but he was determined to make it back and channelled all his energy into his rehab. It wasn't easy.

"When you are injured, especially at this point in the year, you do think the worst.

"It was a funny injury too in that at times the shoulder felt fine but I had no sensation in my arm so it was slow to heal, but there is a great rehab team here and we worked hard together to keep my sharpness up while the shoulder was getting there."

With Leo Cullen retiring after the Pro12 final, there has been a lot of reflection in the media on his time with Leicester and the key learnings he brought back with him from the Tigers.

"I know that a lot has been said about the 'Leicester Way' and what Leo and Shane (Jennings) picked up when they were over there, but what they along with others have given us is a 'Leinster Way' which is about delivering your best every day and not just in one-off games.

"Like Leicester, Wasps was a very good club. Ian McGeechan was there as director of rugby and they had players like Lawrence Dallaglio and Matt Dawson on the pitch. Huge characters and superb men to drive any team. I picked up a huge amount from them. But what we have here now is pretty special too and every day we are looking to better ourselves."

The opportunity to join Leinster was another challenge and one that he couldn't refuse.

"Leinster were the reigning Heineken Cup champions at the time and there were signs that this was no flash in the pan.

"My first season was a difficult one for everyone as you were dealing with being reigning champions for the first time.

"You are up there to be shot at and to be taken down and ultimately we let ourselves and 'Cheiks' (Michael Cheika) down.

"Under Joe (Schmidt) it was by no means an easy start.

"We went a fair few games without a win but we could see what Joe was trying to achieve and we believed in him and what he was trying to get us to execute. That patience paid off in the end."

This weekend, as Leinster go in search of trophy number seven in seven years, Reddan is all too aware of the challenges that the organisation faces off the pitch to keep that upward curve going.

"Unquestionably this has been one of the key parts to the success of Leinster Rugby: the ability of the club to do their homework and get great coaches for the team.

"It's not an easy job given that more than 15 players are away for large parts of a season so it's vitally important the club can identify and attract the likes of Cheiks, Joe (Schmidt) and Matt (O'Connor)."

Back to on-field matters and for Reddan, rehabilitation has come just in time once again. Earlier in the year that meant inclusion at vital times during the Six Nations run-in against Italy and away to France.

But now with the shoulder right, it's the club that comes calling and one last huge game against a very willing and able Glasgow team.

"You only have to look at their record this year – they have the meanest defence, yet are up there in the top four teams in terms of tries scored.

"They have all the facets of a good team. They run hard, they've a good set-piece, they defend ferociously well as a unit and they have game-breakers"

They will have their homework on Glasgow done and they know how big a threat they pose, but Reddan is also very content with Leinster's own preparations up in Rosemount these last few weeks.

A British and Irish Cup win brought great enthusiasm and energy to the training and when you throw in the drive and determination of the group to deliver a trophy, he feels they are in a good place.

"We've had a good spell together now as a unit since the end of the Six Nations and in a way it's a pity the season is ending this week as I think if the season went on a bit longer we would only get better and better.

"We will have to have our best game of the season to win this weekend and everything has been put in place to allow us to give that performance."

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