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O'Connor demanding big response against Scarlets

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Leinster's Mick McGrath is tackled by Fergus McFadden during training ahead of their Guinness Pro12 with Scarlets tomorrow. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Leinster's Mick McGrath is tackled by Fergus McFadden during training ahead of their Guinness Pro12 with Scarlets tomorrow. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Leinster's Mick McGrath is tackled by Fergus McFadden during training ahead of their Guinness Pro12 with Scarlets tomorrow. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

It was a disappointing opening weekend for Leinster, but Matt O'Connor is confident that the work done in what was his first full pre-season in charge will prove to be hugely beneficial going forward.

The Pro12 champions are back in action tomorrow when they welcome Scarlets to the RDS, and despite playing at home for the first time this season, O'Connor isn't taking anything for granted against a side that he feels are similar to Glasgow.

Leinster are boosted by the return of several Irish internationals, and the Australian coach is hoping that his side can back up what has been a very "positive" pre-season.

"Although it wasn't evident in the first half last week, there's been a lot of the growth within the group in relation to understanding and clarity of what we're trying to do," O'Connor said.

"The Test guys off the back of their management programme missed out on a little bit of that but there's a lot of groundwork that's gone into the middle tier of the squad that I'm sure will put us in a really good place for the November Test period.

"It's just about getting those Test guys back up to speed quickly, now that they're available again."

Despite showing plenty of character to claw their way back into the game in Glasgow, O'Connor is only too aware that Leinster cannot afford to make the same kind of mistakes against an improving Scarlets outfit.

"The most frustrating thing about last week was that when things weren't going well, we compounded errors. Our composure was quite poor and we didn't actually end up getting a foothold in the game, which was disappointing," he admitted.

"It's really important in the sense that if you get it wrong, Scarlets are very clinical at taking their chances. We need to make sure that we put the ball in the right areas and put Scarlets under pressure.

"With all their top boys fit, they're a very good squad. They were unlucky not to get the four points last week. There aren't any teams that you can under-perform against and beat in this league.

"We need to make sure that we're really good at the things we can control to make sure that we get the result that we need."

Scarlets arrive in Dublin tomorrow on the back of an impressive performance against Ulster, although they will have been disappointed to have conceded a late try that meant they only drew the game.

But nevertheless, the renewed sense of optimism surrounding Welsh rugby is something O'Connor is mindful of.

"There's certainly a better quality player in all the squads. It's going to be incredibly tough. That puts pressure on us to make sure that we get it right," he said.

"Last week showed that if you don't play for 80 minutes of the game you're going to put yourself under serious pressure."

Meanwhile, O'Connor allayed fears surrounding Noel Reid's ankle injury and said it was a relief that the young centre was only facing up to three weeks on the sidelines.

Reid's injury, with Gordon D'Arcy still recovering from shoulder surgery, leaves a gap in Leinster's midfield but O'Connor is confident that his side have enough strength in depth.

"Thankfully it wasn't as serious as we first thought. Post-game we were thinking that it was probably going to need surgery to fix so from that end, it's very pleasing," he said.

"He hasn't played much rugby so he's going to come back a bit rusty but it'll only be a couple of weeks."

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