Monday 22 July 2019

Contepomi: No need to rush players back against Glasgow

Leinster backs coach Felipe Contepomi
Leinster backs coach Felipe Contepomi

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

'Train how you play' has increasingly become a familiar mantra and at Leinster they are backing the quality of their sessions as suitable preparation for a semi-final against Toulouse.

Whereas Munster have been forced to field strong sides on a regular basis as they fight on two fronts and search for a home semi-final in the PRO14, Leinster have long secured their status as Conference B's top side and have plenty more breathing space.

So while Conor Murray, Peter O'Mahony and CJ Stander were involved against Cardiff Blues in Cork last weekend, Seán O'Brien, Rob Kearney and Jack Conan put their feet up in the Middle East.

The squad were back training in the rain in front of season-ticket holders at Energia Park yesterday, with Robbie Henshaw and Devin Toner back in blue as they approach the end of their 10-week lay-offs.

Leo Cullen's decision is whether to pitch the pair back in to the starting XV for the PRO14 meeting with Glasgow Warriors at the RDS on Saturday or hold off for another week.

Johnny Sexton wasn't present yesterday and is set to take a limited part in training.

And so there is a chance to keep the team that will start against Toulouse together, drilling for two weeks for a critical game and, with a mounting injury list, Cullen may prefer that scenario.

That's despite the fact that the win over Ulster was Leinster's only game together as a unit since the end of the pool stages.

Felipe Contepomi reckons they can pull a performance together on the training pitch.

"Not playing this week doesn't exclude you from the following week. When we field a Leinster team we try and put the best team according to a lot of variables and fitness," he said.

"The cohesion, you get it in training. We want to get them in training as many times as possible. That's the truth," the former Argentina out-half said.

"The most important thing for them is to train and get together.

"The selection, it comes with a lot of variables around that. That means fitness, looking for giving the next opportunity to players.

"We try to give opportunities to everyone. That's where selection comes. Cohesion, we will get in training."

Whenever Contepomi is put before the media, it doesn't take long for Sexton's name to crop up.

And the fitness of the World Player of the Year is a major talking point ahead of the Toulouse game.

"To play our type of game, we need to be 100pc fit. If we have any doubts, we are lucky enough to have good depth in the squad," Contepomi said.

"For him (Sexton), it is important to come back training. With training, you get cohesion, you get match fitness because of the way we train and we can assess that is training.

"He has to be fit. For me, it is more about fitness and being in training and getting the cohesion there rather than in games.

"He's 33, played so many games in his life. It is not like he has to feel the game. That's his case. Other cases might also need games. Everyone is individual, is different."

Irish Independent

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