Monday 23 July 2018

Leinster can deliver five-star display of champions

Leinster's James Lowe. Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster's James Lowe. Photo: Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Complacency will not be an issue for Leinster tomorrow afternoon even if, at the very least, mere competence should be enough to claim the win needed to secure a quarter-final spot.

Conviction can ensure they earn the five points ahead of the six-day turnaround before visiting Montpellier next weekend when they may seek to augment their last-eight slot with a crucial home tie, presuming Exeter haven't already done them a favour by tipping over the French on the south coast of England this afternoon.

It is difficult to envisage, regardless of Glasgow's depleted visiting squad, that competence or conviction can elude a squad that is currently riding the wave of supreme confidence.

The intangible danger of complacency can be avoided by merely referring to a lesson from two years ago when, with the boot on the other foot, Leinster, having lost all of their previous pool games, unfurled a selection of neophytes and tumbled Bath out of contention for a quarter-final spot.

The warning signs will have been heeded by all within the Leinster camp.

"We've prepared well this week and we need to make sure we're in the right frame of mind as it's going to be a huge challenge for us," warns head coach Leo Cullen, as Glasgow leave behind Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray, amongst others.

"It's very dangerous to think too much about what players aren't there. We discussed this game two years ago against Bath and when the teams were announced.

"I remember hearing comments or reading comments about how I was disrespecting the competition for picking young players for their first starts in Europe.

"Some of those guys went on to do very well in that game so we need to understand they will have something to play for, and that makes them very, very dangerous. They've a lot of talent in that team."

Leinster can still omit star names of their own - such as current Irish full-back Rob Kearney, who will start next week when the team is re-shuffled - yet still parade a formidable force.

James Lowe makes his European debut, as does wunderkind Jordan Larmour, who gets another chance to impress from 15 with Fergus McFadden's strong form arguably doing just as much to edge Kearney from the line-up.

Garry Ringrose's absence from midfield is off-set by the return of fit-again captain Isa Nacewa, while Tadhg Furlong has also recovered from injury to claim his front-row berth in an imposing pack.

That heft should allow Leinster the platform to create bountiful try-scoring pressure beyond.

Verdict: Leinster

Leinster - J Larmour; F McFadden, R Henshaw, I Nacewa (capt), J Lowe; J Sexton, L McGrath; J McGrath, S Cronin, T Furlong; D Toner, S Fardy; J Murphy, J van der Flier, J Conan.

Reps: B Byrne, C Healy, A Porter, J Ryan, D Leavy, N McCarthy, R Byrne, R Kearney.

Glasgow - R Jackson; L Jones, H Jones, N Grigg, N Matawalu; P Thorne, A Price; J Bhatti, G Turner, S Halanukonuka; R Harley (capt), G Peterson; M Fagerson, M Smith, A Ashe.

Reps: G Stewart, A Allan, D Rae, K McDonald, C Fusaro, G Horne, B Thomson, H Pyrgos.

Ref - Marius Mitrea (FIR).

  • Leinster v Glasgow Warriors, RDS, tomorrow, 1pm, Sky Sports Action

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