Thursday 14 December 2017

Stand-ins blazing a trail in Pro12 will be hard to overlook for Wasps quarter-final

The young guns led by Joey Carbery ran the show after half-time last week. Photo: Sportsfile
The young guns led by Joey Carbery ran the show after half-time last week. Photo: Sportsfile

Victor Costello

The victory against the Scarlets was even more gratifying than previous games as the Welsh side had a grasp on Leinster up until half-time.

With many teams in the Pro12 struggling during the Six Nations period with player unavailability, Scarlets have been one of the form sides, but Leinster currently are unstoppable and their value in this competition needs to springboard them through the Champions Cup quarter-final.

Luke McGrath put Leinster back in the driving seat with two fine individual tries.

His performances are pushing him closer to the Ireland bench spot behind Conor Murray and he is unlucky to sit out tonight's game in Cardiff.

Joey Carbery, Ross Byrne and McGrath ran the show after half-time, which was hugely pleasing to see.

The news this week of the arrival and departure of players shows that Leinster are on top of their house-keeping. This period, already disrupted with the Six Nations, can also be disruptive with player movement and the advent of the silly season.

Leinster grabbing control of this player resource management programme in the here and now is a testament to the planning process off the pitch. The players have their eye firmly on the ball and the youth have been suitably contracted by reward.

Mike McCarthy brought a hard edge to the pack, and his work rate will be missed, particularly for the low-key games when his experience was needed.

Zane Kirchner was vital as a utility back and again never let his province down. The South African's departing statement is one the players and the crowd should be proud of.

Professional sport is cruel, and managing these departures as a player and as a coach is vital to the wellbeing of the team.

The consistent victories have been rewarded with job security for the future, and the Leinster management have secured the services of a great group of players who are enjoying their rugby.

As a younger player in Leinster you always want to play with the more experienced players and as they retire, it does hurt, as for years they are your mentors even if from a different era.

But life goes on and as these young players progress, they need to become leaders themselves regardless of their age.

With all this clapping on the back it's hard to find fault in the Leinster environment.

As the fans leave the RDS satisfied with the usual feast of tries, you would have to wonder where the management's thoughts are as they are questioned constantly about outstanding performances of individuals who have impressed in blue while the brand name players are in national camp.

Do they believe that Leinster are really that good, or are the opposition poor? Unfortunately the answer to this question will be delivered when it will be too late in the Aviva on April 1.

So from a management point of view, Leinster need to take the applause but avoid the potential cul de sac around the corner.

Leinster can plan over the next two games while enjoying two weeks off but the management will know that success or failure of the season will rest on the outcome of the Wasps game.

Levels

Confidence is up and fitness levels are clearly high, with Leinster breaking away in the second half of most games.

The squad is vast and the injury count is low, so what could possibly go wrong?

The squad is used to winning in either the RDS or the Aviva environment and we have learned through the years that European success comes from a strong foundation in the Pro12, but this year is different.

It hasn't just been squad players that have kept the Pro12 ticking over - these guys are now real contenders in Leinster's best 23.

There is no doubt that the best match-day squad can compete in the knockout stages in Europe, and with the individual performances to date, the management have difficult choices to make.

Then again, they always say that's the position they want to be in.

Irish Independent Sport Star Awards

Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport