Saturday 16 November 2019

O'Connor claims Penney's Six Nations jibe will disappoint Munster stars

Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor doesn't believe Rob Penney's comments will affect his charges
Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor doesn't believe Rob Penney's comments will affect his charges
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Matt O'Connor has suggested that Rob Penney's comments about Munster facing "the Six Nations champions" in tomorrow's inter-provincial derby will have more of an impact on key members of the Reds coach's own squad than Leinster's.

The New Zealander's billing has dominated the build-up to the sold-out Aviva Stadium clash, but his opposite number said it wouldn't affect the Pro12 champions.

Dismissing the comments as "a bit of banter", O'Connor is probably more concerned about the health of his front-row options going into the top-of-the-table fixture.

Jack McGrath is almost certainly out of the game as he continues to recover from the collar bone injury that he suffered in the final moments of Ireland's Six Nations victory in Paris, while Cian Healy is also struggling with his ankle ahead of the derby.

On the tighthead side, Martin Moore is also dealing with an injury, although Leinster would not disclose the nature of his problem.

Rhys Ruddock is another doubt with a calf injury.

O'Connor is expecting a tough battle, but doesn't believe Penney's comments will affect his charges.

"I think Paul O'Connell, Conor Murray and Peter O'Mahony will be quite disappointed with that statement," he said.

"But it's a bit of banter, isn't it? It's not a biggie. It's not motivating us. We know that we have to be really, really good, and that's the bottom line.

"We rarely have an issue making sure we bring the passion and intensity to the contest. That's probably down the list of priorities.

"This Leinster team, over a period of time, have always demonstrated that level of passion and that level of desire to play for each other, so that won't be the focus.

"The detail, and trying to get the things that we can control right is really, really important, because if you don't get those right against Munster, they will strangle you and they will win the game.

"It's about us delivering on what we need to deliver on and making sure we don't give them easy passage into the game, and about making sure we are very good at doing what we want to do in the game."

Irish Independent

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