Monday 11 November 2019

Ireland's Six Nations success can inspire Leinster in two-pronged push for glory

Jack Conan has been one of the standard-bearers for Leinster this season
Jack Conan has been one of the standard-bearers for Leinster this season

Victor Costello

The excitement from last weekend's finale of the Six Nations will linger for a while amongst the players and fans, and rightly so.

The ability to perform under pressure is the staple characteristic of these Ireland players. The camp was split last weekend, and for some of the Irish squad there will be a void between now and the World Cup warm-up games.

For the Leinster players, other opportunities beckon, and physically and mentally they could not be in better shape.

Preceding the Six Nations disruption, the fitness and availability levels were quite low across the Leinster squad.

But now players are not only in full health, but performance levels and match fitness levels are beyond what is expected at this time of the season.

Ireland's success has done Leinster a favour in maintaining a high level of performance, and capturing this over the next few weeks should be the aim of the Blues management.

Therefore, selection criteria should be a mix of players on form and those with the winning mentality from the Irish set-up.

The ability to recover from both the physical and mental demands of a Six Nations campaign can take a week or two, and the Ireland players will have to adjust to new calls and structures before the two games that will decide the length of Leinster's season.

For the Leinster players not involved with Ireland, the last few weeks have probably been an emotional roller coaster with the hope of being selected.

Decisions

The Leinster squad is in the best shape it has been in all season and the player pool available gives the management many decisions to make in selection.

They must to be hard-nosed and confident enough to expect to beat Glasgow and Bath at home. Focusing on the next few weeks should not be a problem for anyone within the squad.

The Ireland players have proved their form by winning the Championship, and for the Leinster players back at HQ, there are many opportunities and goals ahead.

The standard-bearers throughout the season have been Dominic Ryan, Jack Conan, Kane Douglas, Jimmy Gopperth and Zane Kirchner.

Leinster's inconsistent results haven't helped Irish ambitions for the players available but the next two games will give players a chance to put themselves in the shop window for the World Cup.

David Kearney and Rhys Ruddock are players who Ireland will need come September. Kearney's form was outstanding before injury and Ruddock's power and lineout ability will be key.

As much as individuals will have various ambitions, it is crucial the collective team extend their time in both competitions this season.

Through success or failure, a team will have to rid past games from their minds.

Home games will give the necessary boost in performance, and Leinster have a real chance of dusting themselves off and competing for trophies in both competitions.

It is clear that this Leinster squad perform better with the bigger challenges ahead of them, and they have somewhat underperformed recently, particularly away from home.

However, they will have to hit the ground running against Glasgow. The first half will prove whether or not the tone has been set for the rest of the season.

If Leinster put in a performance tonight against the league leaders, the season will open up for them.

With more big-name players to be added for the game against Bath, under the umbrella of the success of the Irish team, Leinster can compete in the finals in Europe.

Irish Independent

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