Tuesday 12 November 2019

Matt O'Connor: We must focus on the elements we can control

Jordan Coghlan, Leinster A, is tackled by Danny Qualter, Connacht Eagles during the Interprovincial Friendly at the Sportsground this week (Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE)
Jordan Coghlan, Leinster A, is tackled by Danny Qualter, Connacht Eagles during the Interprovincial Friendly at the Sportsground this week (Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE)
Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor speaking during a press conference ahead of their European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 5, match against Castres on Saturday (Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE)
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Leinster may be facing the prospect of facing a weakened Castres side but Matt O'Connor isn't taking the French side for granted ahead of tomorrow's crucial Champions Cup game at the RDS.

Castres currently lie second from bottom of the Top14 and are likely to prioritise their domestic survival over a European campaign which is dead and buried.

The financial implications of Castres being relegated to ProD2 would be hugely damaging.

O'Connor's side go in search of a bonus-point victory that would set them up nicely going into next weekend's final pool game with Wasps but the Australian coach is eager for his side to focus on the elements that are within their control.

"You just prep up with the information that you've got. You go out there and give it the best shot that you can," O'Connor said.

"They were a little bit disappointing last week but I think they're making assessments of what they can win and what their priorities are and what kind of resources they can put in.

"Each contest from now until the end of the season will be important for them in staying in the top leagues so from that end I wouldn't read too much about who they bring in or what their attitude is. We have to deliver on the bits that we can control."

Tomorrow's meeting with Castres will be the fourth time in two seasons that the sides have met and O'Connor is adamant that the familiarity aspect can work in Leinster's favour.

"It helps a little bit because of the way the French teams approach the game," he admitted.

"We wouldn't be as comfortable or as knowledgeable with a lot of their guys so from that end, it does give us a bit of an understanding of what their strengths are and what we need to do to break them down."

Leinster have won three of their last four Pro12 games since their last Champions Cup game (14-13 win over Harlequins) and O'Connor is adamant that the focus in training this week has been on maintaining their current form rather than worry about the threat that Castres may pose.

"Given the form that we've shown and the bodies that have come back into the environment and the growth in our game over the last couple of weeks, that's the only thing that's important to us - making sure that we deliver a quality 80-minute performance and get out of it.

"There's no point wasting your own resources when the stakes are so high in your domestic league. In their situation, they've got to make sure that they remain in the Top14," he accessed.

"There's other dynamics in and around the competition in relation to European qualification and all of those things are a different question for all of the different teams.

"It's irrelevant to us. We need to make sure that we arrive at the RDS in the right mindset to deliver the kind of performance that gets us as many points out of the game as possible," O'Connor added.

Irish Independent

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