Friday 19 January 2018

Reddan energised by arrival of new blood

Eoin Reddan scores a try against Scarlets in 2013 and is looking forward to a tough test tonight
Eoin Reddan scores a try against Scarlets in 2013 and is looking forward to a tough test tonight
Eoin Reddan

Marcus Ó Buachalla

Results have not been easy to come by at the Stadio Monigo of late for Leinster but they've got there.

Just. There was the draw that could have gone either way last season. Missed drop at goal for Leinster to win it. Two missed kicks for Treviso late on to do the same. A one point win the year before. The year before that?

A team containing Brian O'Driscoll, Johnny Sexton, Shane Jennings and captain Jamie Heaslip struggled to a 18-19 win having been 8-3 down at half time.

In the context of most PRO12 league tables it doesn't add up. But Treviso can play. And in particular they can play at home and Leinster scrum-half Eoin Reddan is well aware of this fact.

He wasn't involved last season in the 24-24 draw but played the previous two seasons in the Stadio and won the Man of the Match award last Sunday in the latest instalment.

"Quite simply, it is a tough place to go. Most definitely. So to come away with four tries, the bonus point, our own try line intact and a relatively clean bill of health is a huge positive. So we will take it that's for sure.

"They are very resilient, good attack, solid defence and they work very hard for each other and we saw that last week where we did have to dig deep in particular during that first half to keep them at bay. I think the hard work that we put in during that first half came through for us in the second and then when we had our purple patch it was just important for us to capitalise.

"But they are a good team and teams will come up short there over the season so we have to be relatively happy with what we came away with."

The Treviso game was a first Leinster game of the season for Reddan having been in the Irish World Cup squad. The 34-year-old Limerick born scrumhalf is now back nearly two weeks. Back at Leinster and back under a new head coach. Albeit one that he knows well.

"I just think that it's hugely exciting. As a professional rugby player to be looking to improve yourself under a new coaching set up and learning new calls and new ways of doing things and then looking to replicate what you have seen in the video room or on the training pitch and seeing if that can be done on a rugby pitch with fifteen others coming at you.

"That is the challenge and it isn't easy but it is something that we are all keen to throw ourselves into.

"Leo is obviously head coach but then you have Girvan as well as backs coach. Again, I think Girvan has very clear messages around how he wants to play the game and for me the challenge is getting up to speed on those calls having been away for so long with Ireland.

"I think we are in a good place. That being said we are in fourth position so that shows that there is still a gap and it's on us to close that gap and to drive on again."

Reddan is one of those players who has been driving a message over the years. It has been a consistent one and something but he feels is now starting to get through.

It's a simple message and it is based around the fact that he feels that there are no easy games. So that gap between fourth and first is considerable and the effort it takes to close that gap is not easily managed.


"I have been saying it for a while and I think it's starting to take hold. The Guinness PRO12 is a very competitive league. It is our week in week out competition but perhaps in the past we have maybe been guilty of focusing on the big ones or the European nights but now you have to qualify for Europe through the league so every point in the PRO12 matters. Not just for us but for all the teams.

"But that helps you to focus. You want tough games. You want to test yourself against the best and I think we are doing that and I think that the fans, media, sponsors, everybody is now playing their part and realising that the product is a really good one.

"The supporters in particular have a huge role to play. It's easily said about the impact that your home crowd can have but it is so true. That roar and that lift you get and we really enjoy playing at the RDS and it will be no different on Friday."

At 34 he is one of the elder statesmen in Leinster now so when he talks people listen. For those taking their first steps he is a player with three Heineken Cup medals and with two different clubs at that having also won with Wasps. He commands respect but it is reciprocated.

"I've liked what I have seen with the younger players definitely. Garry, Josh and Ross in particular. But it hasn't happened by accident or overnight. Credit where it is due they got a shot last year. Look at how well Josh went against Ulster or Ross against the Dragons. They have then brought that experience gained last year into this and so far they have gone well.

"Don't forget too that last year they were performing like that in a team that wasn't firing on all cylinders so it's a mark of where they were at. But again, no accident. It's hard work, it's attention to your detail, it's having a good attitude. They are a really good example of what can be achieved if you work hard, learn your detail and they deserve it. And maybe above all else, they are still very grounded young men."

There is the temptation to talk about the Champions Cup and of course Wasps. Reddan was signed by Warren Gatland in 2005 and went on to win a Heineken Cup and a Premiership title. Every meeting brings with it fond memories and next week will be no different. But he isn't for shifting. The here and now is where he wants to remain. And that is Scarlets.

"Great times but every time I play them there is less and less direct connections as time goes by. But honestly and I know it sounds like a cliché but we are just focused on the Scarlets.

"Look at our performance the last day against them and being 25-0 down after 60 minutes. They have beaten Munster, Ulster, Glasgow and ourselves. Three of last year's semi-finalists!

"They can not be taken lightly and they won't be. There will be plenty of time to focus on Wasps next week. We can't afford any distractions and the team selected this week will have that determination to do their job and to perform."

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