Saturday 18 November 2017

Leinster must find right balance when recalling players after World Cup duty

It was fitting that Garry Ringrose ended up with the man of the match award against Glasgow.
It was fitting that Garry Ringrose ended up with the man of the match award against Glasgow.

Victor Costello

Maintaining a winning record at home is crucial for confidence and also adds a bit of fear to visiting sides in that they are likely to end up being just another statistic upon their visit to the RDS or the Aviva Stadium.

Leinster dug deep last weekend against a Glasgow Warriors team that are well-drilled and confident. Current performances across the team are at a high standard and it was fitting that Garry Ringrose ended up with the man of the match award.

The Leinster team have an eagerness and urgency about them that implies that all is well both on and off the pitch.

Over the past few games, players selected would have gained a lot of experience while the senior players were away but it is imperative that their goals are achieved and performances are lifted to the next level when given the opportunity. Players will tell you that it is not good enough to just wear the jersey but to win in the jersey.

Glasgow were always going to be a tough side to beat and Leinster being behind at the interval is a habit they need to kick. The ability to come from behind and win games shows great mental strength and physical fitness but it is not a situation to be relished on a dark winter's night in Toulon or Wasps.

As a review at this stage of the season, Leinster will need to cut out loose passes, wayward kicking and ill-discipline. These three characteristics have a habit of biting if not eradicated.

We spoke last week about the set-pieces, the dominant lineout and scrums but last weekend at home Leinster added a new dynamic to their repertoire by vigorously competing on the opposition lineout ball. This is an attitude at lineout time that not many clubs have mastered.

At this stage, the Leinster supporters will have gotten over the disappointments of the World Cup and settled back into the weekly routine of provincial rugby.

Winning at home to the reigning Pro12 champions Glasgow will provide a platform of confidence for the home crowd and is a useful vehicle for success for the returning World Cup players.

Irish management and sports psychologists will always tell the players to get away for a while and rest up physically and mentally but the players will tell you the opposite.

Many players would have taken to the skies out of Ireland but, geography apart, the Argentinian game will not leave them that easily.

A week off in rugby is a long time and the request for game-time in the Leinster jersey will give the Irish players a chance to get back on the blue horse.

The management will have an abundant selection choice for their away game to Treviso. The same game away last season gave a depleted Leinster side problems and they were lucky to come away with a draw.

What Leo Cullen does next will have consequences for the mindset of the players for the rest of the season. If Leinster have aspirations this season, then Treviso away should not hold any fears.

In that case, selection should reflect a balance between the performers in the recent Leinster outings and those returning in from Ireland duty.


If the management decide they want to bed in their senior players sooner rather than later for European duty, then those Irish players available will be selected.

Treviso away on a Sunday afternoon is a far cry from the crowded stadia of the World Cup but it's an ideal opportunity for the Leinster management and players to start blending their team together.

Treviso deserve respect and are building a reputation for themselves at home. A recent performance at home to Ospreys will have their tails up.

Nevertheless, it is a game that Leinster must perform in to get their first away win of the season and in turn set up a platform for the returning Irish players to pursue their international ambitions once again.

Indo Sport

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