Friday 27 April 2018

Matt O'Connor says Leinster are being measured by a 'different yardstick' to rivals

Leinster coach Matt O’Connor believes his side are being judged in different terms to the other provinces.
Leinster coach Matt O’Connor believes his side are being judged in different terms to the other provinces.
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Leinster coach Matt O’Connor believes his side are being judged in different terms to the other provinces.

The under-fire Australian pointed out at today’s press conference that his side remain the strongest placed Irish team in the Champions Cup,

Despite beating Harlequins last Saturday night at the Aviva Stadium, Leinster have come in for stinging criticism from fans and a selection of pundit who lamented the lack of creativity from the three-time European champions.

The issue has been a running theme this season and O’Connor was asked if he felt it was balanced.

"It's a different yardstick, I'll say that. Connacht are a point behind us, they're having an unbelievable season," he said.

"Munster, Ulster, where are they in Europe? Ask the question, but we're getting beaten up. That's not our doing.

“Whether it's fair or not is irrelevant really, we just go about doing what we do. We try and be as good as we can be every week. We don't go out there to drop a ball, or miss line-outs, or concede penalties.

"We spend the whole week trying to be as good as we can and most of that is in and around playing and scoring tries, because that's what we want to do. People will write what they write. The expectation is there, rightfully so because of how good a group we've got and what we've achieved. That's out of our hands.

"Of course you feel pressure, because that's the nature of the game. You want to be better, you want to be winning games, you want to be scoring tries. That's the reality of it. I can't catch the ball for them, I can only put them in a position to do it.”

Leinster trained at the RDS this afternoon after the coach made sweeping changes to his side to face Connacht.

Jack McGrath is on the bench with Michael Bent starting, while Mike Ross is not involved as Tadhg Furlong takes over the tighthead with short-term South African signing Maks Van Dyk set for his debut off the bench.

“He's come over on loan for us given the injury crisis we had in the front row. It took a little longer to get his work permit than we thought. He's recently arrived and played in the A game and he's involved this weekend,” O’Connor said.

“It's a short-term at the moment to get us through the injury crisis that we've got and we'll see after that.

“He hopefully can scrummage, and hopefully run around, tackle, clean out, pass and catch, do all those beautiful things that front rows do.”

O’Connor left Ian Madigan out due to the player being “banged up” with ankle and shoulder problems, so Luke Fitzgerald partners Noel Reid in the centre.

Rhys Ruddock is replaced by Kevin McLaughlin, while Shane Jennings returns for the interprovincial clash and the coach is looking for their experience to make a difference.

“Connacht have played very, very well. So the experience with Kev coming back in there, Dave (Kearney), Jenno, it gives us a little bit more experience to us and a little bit more edge hopefully,” he said.

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