Sunday 25 March 2018

Leinster's arrogant streak must come to the fore during Six Nations period

Joey Carbery made his return against Treviso last weekend and starts against Edinburgh tonight. Photo: Sportsfile
Joey Carbery made his return against Treviso last weekend and starts against Edinburgh tonight. Photo: Sportsfile

Victor Costello

Returning home from Treviso last Sunday with a bonus point in the bag will have been temporarily satisfying before tonight's crucial clash at home against Edinburgh.

A win in Italy with maximum points while Dave Kearney, Mike Ross and Joey Carbery returned from injury leaves Leinster sitting pretty in the Pro12 table.

It was, of course, just a little more intense than a training run with Treviso shorn of their international players, but you can only play against what's in front of you and any win on the road is important.

Leinster need to be arrogant by keeping the Pro12 ticking over in this period of disruption while building towards the knockout stages of both competitions.

With less than a minute on the clock, Ross Byrne was eager to prove his awareness by kicking over the Treviso defence to put Rory O'Loughlin under the sticks,

Both players have evolved this season into contenders for the main stage and although there's still an apprenticeship to be served, their cases are strong.

The early try created the platform for Leinster to relax and run through their game-plan as opposed to watching the clock.

With Kearney scoring a brace of tries, there was a reminder of what was to come from him for the remainder of the season.

As a player, when you're injured, you feel far removed. As a fan looking in, you see players as part of a large squad but when you're a player, you are determined to be in the starting XV.

With injury or form prohibiting this, it can be an isolating place until back on the pitch. Kearney's performance is a reminder to himself of his importance in this squad and, to everyone else, an unnecessary reminder.

As a squad, the importance of this time is crucial to keep focused on the day-to-day business of the Pro12. As a player, there will be opportunities. With the highs and lows of the Six Nations enthralling the nation, Leinster home games will always steady the emotional ship.

This week will have been all about recovery instead of improvement. Edinburgh are not the team they once were and are completely overshadowed by their neighbours Glasgow as well as the national team.

With the injury toll lessening in the Leinster camp, competition for places will begin to heat up. It will be good for the management to have close to full availability but it can be a frustrating time for some players.

If you look at the scrum-half selection last weekend for example, you will find Luke McGrath sitting on the bench. That won't make or break his Ireland selection chances but it is vital for McGrath to be in the shop window during this Six Nations period and he gets his chance from the start tonight alongside Joey Carbery.

Leo Cullen will know this but he needs to manage the players who have international opportunity while rotating according to Leinster's needs.

Every player will want to be part of the match-day squad in the Champions Cup quarter-final and will scramble to do so.


The platform for grabbing the attention of the coaching staff is of course different for each individual player, with the international stage the priority. That said, consistent performers day to day should be recognised come that mouthwatering clash against Wasps at the Aviva.

With the Pro12 ticking over, the marketeers are selling seats in the Aviva.

Like every home game, it is a must-win scenario and the Leinster management have to plan towards its importance while not dismissing the weekly routine of the domestic affairs.

Leinster have had poor seasons in the past and still made the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup.

This year, proceeding into the top four will give them the recognition they deserve after last season's reconfiguration, and beyond that, it will come down to experience - which Leinster have in abundance at their core.

Irish Independent

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