Monday 23 September 2019

Gibson-Park ready to face another storm

Jamison Gibson Park. Photo:
Jamison Gibson Park. Photo:

Ryan Corry

As the rain and wind whirled around the inside of the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening, New Zealander Jamison Gibson-Park was readying himself to be introduced in place of starting scrum-half Luke McGrath.

This week, he'll be hoping that he will be donning the No 9 shirt as Connacht make the trip east for the first of the festive interprovincial matches.

It is a game that the Kiwi views as being every bit as difficult as the western province's form suggests.

"They are in pretty good form. They've won five on the bounce through both competitions and the Leinster scalp is a pretty big one for the other Irish teams, so we're under no illusions they're going to be coming in pretty hot trying to get that scalp," he says.

"It's nearly sold out I think, so it's awesome for us, a pretty awesome time of year for the people to get out and witness some good footy."

And while the following two weeks will provide a trip to Thomond Park to face Munster before welcoming Ulster to the RDS, the scrum-half still has one eye on the Champions Cup.

An injury to Nick McCarthy has provided an opportunity to Gibson-Park to get some game time in the competition with Scott Fardy missing out under the rule which forbids squads from having more than two 'non-European' players in their squad.

The other player in contention is James Lowe who looks indispensable to Leinster on the wing on current form.

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Gibson-Park views the interpros as a vital factor in both Leinster's momentum and the season as a whole, with last year's Christmas period providing the team with the launch-pad for last season's success.

"Obviously, Toulouse are still pretty much in control but they have to come to us in January so that's an exciting thing as well.

"It's exciting as well, the next couple of games, the three inter-pros set us up pretty well last year.

"It built a bit of momentum into the next block in Europe so hopefully it'll be the same again. There's obviously going to be a few of the younger guys seeing some minutes."

As a man used to a sunnier climate, he was also very appreciative of the 40,261-strong crowd who made themselves known in the Aviva on Saturday evening despite the horrendous conditions, laughing off any suggestion that the sudden downturn in the weather had any correlation with his introduction.

"Fair play to them. Far out. It was actually pretty nice for the first 60 minutes and then it really, really got bad.

"I think as soon as the storm hit, they were kind of like, 'get us out of here' so fair play to the people that stuck around.

Another storm awaits for Leinster tomorrow evening, this time it'll be lining out before them in green shirts and Gibson-Park will be ready and waiting.

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