Saturday 16 November 2019

Unfortunately the way the national team performed will not sit well within Leinster

Max Deegan has been an bright light in the back-row. Photo: Sportsfile
Max Deegan has been an bright light in the back-row. Photo: Sportsfile

Victor Costello

The win against Edinburgh last weekend was another confident victory for Leinster. And there's no doubt that with more of these victories the Blues are building for more success in Europe.

The collective and individual performances are laying the foundation for this season, and the seasons ahead.

The winning mentality is also spreading across the group with some great up-and-coming players getting valuable game time.

This winning approach has allowed Leinster to control the scoreboard on either side of the half-time whistle, without heading into the changing room with any deficit or need for reconfiguration.

The score at half-time two weeks ago effectively finished off Edinburgh, with Leinster still cruising.

There is no doubt more European Champions Cups in this squad but the yearly rejuvenation of this group and club is the most impressive attribute required for both province and country.

With Irish players returning bruised and battered, some provinces will require their big guns to slot in almost immediately.

Leinster, on the other hand, will have more options which will ultimately lead to a quicker rehabilitation of all their top players.

There will be no need for the Irish players to increase the intensity of the current Leinster performances, in fact quite the opposite.

The way Leinster have performed has already answered the question as to who are the next crop of players for the 2023 World Cup.

Their confidence and composure belies both their age. And the unity across the group is extremely hard to tackle for travelling sides.

Caelan Doris and Max Deegan are working well as a balanced back-row unit, with Scott Penny bringing back memories of Keith Gleeson.

At the other end of the age spectrum, watching Dave Kearney perform weekly it's hard not to think what a good job he could have done in Japan.

The blend of overseas players and former academy players is creating an ideal apprenticeship platform for many who under normal circumstances would not get as much game time as they are now.

Hugo Keenan and Rónan Kelleher are particularly impressive in these games. Kelleher, however, needs to keep focused on his line-out accuracy and not fall victim of hookers before him that gave much around the pitch but struggled at the set piece. If he can get this right his Leinster and Ireland future can be brighter.

While the Irish players drag themselves back from the Far East, Leinster are sitting pretty near the top of the PRO14.

Their performances have been consistent, and confident, and everything else that we hadn't seen in the World Cup from Ireland.

Leinster will be a welcome change for the returning Irish players and they will be keen to put on the blue shirt way before the player management officials will allow.

Unfortunately the way the national team has performed will not sit well with the Blues.

The injury and fatigue toll from the Irish game plan has already put Jack Conan out until well into the New Year, with more attrition to come.

The province's value to the returning players is high but it will take time for the Irish players to recover physically and mentally from the last few months. Luckily the club can afford this time and younger players will benefit.

The final score at the Edinburgh game was impressive, and the Leinster looked composed from the off. Their ability to score in the championship moments either side of the break also showed great maturity.

However, what will be addressed is the two yellow cards that for a period reduced Leinster to 13 men. This will not sit well with the management because if it was later in the year it would be more costly.

The two culprits should have known better, particularly Joe Tomane.

Michael Bent is now a long time Leinster stalwart with a lot of miles on the clock and full value for his years in Leinster.

Tomane, on the other hand, was clearly frustrated to be caught out of position prior to the try and took it out on the Edinburgh player after the touchdown.

Both players put their team under unnecessary pressure and luckily Leinster were able to play down the clock against a weaker Edinburgh side.

Zebre this weekend will prove little or no opposition but it will be a good opportunity for Leinster as a group to get away for a weekend of rugby.

With Irish rugby being a disappointing daily discussion point, the Leinster squad have been and will continue to be immune from the fallout with their continued disciplined performances.

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Champions Cup preview, the World Cup hangover and Joe Schmidt's next team

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport