Wednesday 24 January 2018

Caputo braced for Ospreys backlash

Jimmy Gopperth during squad training
Jimmy Gopperth during squad training
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

It hasn't been the most convincing two weeks in Leinster's season but scrum coach Marco Caputo isn't looking for excuses ahead of tonight's crucial clash away to the Ospreys.

The Leinster squad has been decimated by players' involvement with Ireland and those who are eventually made available only returning to the province late in the week.

Coach Matt O'Connor pointed to that fact in the aftermath of last weekend's stuttering bonus-point win over Zebre.

Caputo, though, firmly believes that Leinster have such strength in depth that they should be able to cope - and deliver the standard of performance that the supporters have come to expect.

"We've got a good few lads away. But, on paper, we've got a good team, one we think is a good enough to get the job done for us," the Australian insisted.

"We're confident with the depth that we've got we can go out there and get the result that we need.

Just one place separates this evening's sides but the hosts come into the game on the back of two straight defeats.

Like Leinster, Ospreys are without a host of first-team players who are away on international duty, and Caputo is wary of the fact that the Welsh side desperately need to win to boost their play-off hopes.

"They are only two points behind us in the league table and have two home games, us and then Munster. They are going to be determined to get their season back on track," he said.

"We're equally focused on setting up a decent home run but we need to play well and get the victory there first and foremost to make sure we're in a good place.

"We had that hiccup against the Dragons two weeks ago and then made hard work of it last Friday against Zebre. Thankfully, we showed grit and were able to grind out the four tries and get the victory with the bonus point.

"This time last year, the boys did very well to pick up 19 out of 20 available points. We're looking to go there and get a victory. We're planning and preparing that way.

"We'll be looking to go over there well prepared and psychologically up for a big fight and to put our best foot forward."

Meanwhile, Caputo revealed that back-row Kevin McLaughlin is in a fitness race to return before the end of the season. McLaughlin hasn't featured for the province since damaging his shoulder in the Pro12 game against Connacht in December.

The 30-year was expected to be out of action for up to 12 weeks but Caputo admitted that complications have meant that his recovery has been slowed down.

"He's had a shoulder reconstruction. He's had some effects that weren't scheduled," Caputo said.

"He's taking a lot longer to recover with his rotator cuff. There are some things there that weren't initially diagnosed in his recovery. That slowed the process up.

"We're hoping to get Kevy back before the end of the season. He's running out of time. He's probably two or three weeks behind."

Irish Independent

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