Thursday 25 April 2019

Hungry debutants are impressing O'Loughlin

Rory O'Loughlin
Rory O'Loughlin

Ryan Corry

It has been so far, so good in terms of points for Leinster in this recent spell of Guinness PRO14 fixtures.

Bonus-point wins have been notched up against Zebre and Southern Kings, giving them a 22-point cushion at the top of Conference B.

However, the question marks are still hovering. A sticky middle third against Zebre, in which the Italians brought a 21-0 lead back to a mere two points before the break, did dampen the mood somewhat.

That was followed with a first half against Southern Kings in which Leinster, hampered by the wind, were trailing.

Despite that, all available points have been put on the board and, according to Rory O'Loughlin (above), there are other big positives to take.

The centre has seen a lot of positive performances from academy players in recent weeks to give plenty of hope for the future as well as creating a different kind of atmosphere in the RDS Arena.

"It's good playing in games when people are making their home debut or full debut," said the 25-year-old.

"They're always going to remember that game so you see how much it means to them. There's a good buzz around the team and the RDS for those nights.

"So far, you saw at the weekend with Rónan (Kelleher), Jack Dunne and Paddy Patterson, they all performed very well and if they're involved again, I'm sure they'll take their opportunity."

That ease of transition from representative or 'A' sides is something that is honed on the training pitch, especially in these weeks where large numbers are away on international duty.

O'Loughlin enjoys the new role that he has around the camp when these stages of the year come around and he suddenly becomes one of the senior figures.

"There's been a smaller group around here for the last month. A lot of academy lads have gotten to train with us on a consistent basis and a few of them have gotten to play.

Higher

"Ross Byrne and myself were probably towards the higher end of caps on the 23 last weekend and two seasons ago I was making my debut so it's crazy how quickly it goes.

"It's a different challenge, I remember certain players making it easier for me to build confidence within the team and feel at home at that level. So, it's about me helping younger players do that and play their own game once they play at that level."

It's South African opposition this weekend again for O'Loughlin and Leinster with the visit of Cheetahs, who were last out against Scarlets.

With three tries conceded against Southern Kings last weekend and four the week before against Zebre, defence is something that the Leinster camp will be looking to improve this week.

With the squad depleted due to internationals for just a short time more, the last chance for someone to make a name for themselves this season could be tonight.

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