Friday 20 September 2019

Toner: 'We are not specifically targeting an offloading game'

Devin Toner (right) in conversation with team-mate Tom Denton
Devin Toner (right) in conversation with team-mate Tom Denton
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

"I might become like a (Leone) Nakarawa, you never know!"

Devin Toner fills the room with laughter but the underlying point of his joke is one that will please every Leinster supporter.

The giant second-row is never going to have the offloading prowess of the brilliant Fijian but the shift back to Leinster's expansive game-plan of old has brought a renewed sense of belief within the province.

There has been plenty of discussion surrounding northern hemisphere teams' style of play and although Leinster are clearly looking to shift the ball wide at every opportunity, Toner insists that his side are merely playing the type of game that comes naturally to them.

"Everyone wants to play an attractive style of play. Everyone wants to get over the gain line.

"As a forward, you want to get over the gain line, if you get your hands free fair enough but we're not specially targeting an offloading game," Toner explained.

"We're just playing it as it comes. We're not practising. If it comes, it comes.

"We're just focused on Leinster. We don't really care what's going on anywhere else. If we can get our back three into the game as much as we can, then great.

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"I think you can see the talent we have in our squad; we've got a talented back three, loads of talented young lads coming through in the academy so I think if we can get the ball into their hands, special things can happen."

Toner is yet to bring himself to watching Ireland's World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina but he admits that is part of process as he comes to terms with the major disappointment.

Leinster however are facing a crucial period in their season, starting this evening against the undefeated league leaders, Scarlets.

"We had a good couple of days off and then we were back in here last week," he said.

"You've got so many new plays and new calls to get your head around that you don't really think of it (World Cup).

"We'll obviously get together and go through the video at Christmas. I'll have eventually watched it by then!


"We've got so much on our plate now that we can't really dwell on it to be honest. I've got more important things on my mind. We've got an important block of games coming up and that's where my focus is.

"Everyone is really enjoying getting back into the swing of things. Training has been short and sharp.

"We know exactly how long we're going to be on the field and what we're going to be doing.

"The lads have done pretty well. To get three wins from five and one losing bonus point, that's pretty good for a relatively young and inexperienced team. I think that experience will start developing in the next couple of weeks," Toner added.

The younger players have certainly stepped up in the internationals' absence and with them now back in the fold, there is a real sense that Leinster's season begins this evening.

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