Both committed foot-soldiers of the 12-county army, RK & Z convene to ponder the province’s fortunes…
#2 = ENTER THE DRAGONS
A public house, post-match, somewhere in south Dublin...
RK: So, that was some improvement on last week anyway!
Z: Any kind of showing would have been an improvement on that disaster. Unfortunately it has to be said that the Dragons were fairly toothless too. It was good to see the young pups holding their own. I thought the scrum was really solid on the whole, so I was well impressed with them.
RK: I was happy with the scrum, given the size of the Dragon's pack I thought the young fellas did pretty well. Young Hago looks like he's been hitting the bench rather than Nando's over the summer.
Z: Yes, I was very impressed with how much he has come on. I guess he really sees that there is a path to the green now open to him and he's putting in the required work.
RK: Good to see him making good use of his transfer back from Connacht. I hope Carr does the same this season.
Z: I have to say though, Carr was brutal against Scarlets. It was an improved performance tonight; he actually put in a few hits and held them. I’ll be looking for more of that as the season progresses.
RK: As I've said before, he's got the skills, I'm just not sure he's got the mental. Speaking of skills and mental, what did you think of Mad-dog's [Madigan] outing?
Z: We touched on this last season also; the kid's got talent and he brought it to the fore today. He’s one of the best directional kickers I have seen for some time and he has clearly spent a lot of time studying Sexton. It wouldn't surprise me if we saw a few Sexton at 12, Mad-dog at 10 or vice versa outings this year.
RK: It's possibly the least objectionable way of getting Mad-dog some proper big game time. Not sure J10 would be massively pleased with it though if he was getting shovelled to 12, or that Madser's big enough to stop a random Tuilagi at centre.
RK: I seriously love his defensive work rate though. He'd stick his head where most backs would fear to tread. That's some serious balls.
Z: Yeah, you gotta love that. He definitely has the skills and cojones to play 12. As you say though the Tuilagi factor could be an issue.
RK: Goddamn bosh-merchant English League. And the French too. I can't believe what they're doing to their game.
Z: I was just about to say the same. And they wonder why they don’t make any real headway in the Heineken. Nothing to do with squads or places, all to do with mismanagement.
RK: Absolutely. Trying to bludgeon a camel-sized centre through the eye of a needle.
Z: Couldn't have said it better. That’s why I feel there is hope for mad-dog at 12. He has the skills to evade the boshers. It will be interesting to see how McFadden fits in.
RK: Yes, but they take some stopping if they do have the ball, as evidenced by the yet-again soft centre-field we saw earlier on. I think McFadden is a centre, and I think Joe builds teams based on positional merit rather than shoe-horning people on just so they're on the pitch. Leave that to Uncle Deccie.
Z: We could at some point see McFadden, Sexton and Mad-dog at 13, 12 and 10 though for Leinster, maybe against the likes of Zebre or Exeter. Though it has to be said Reid, Macken and Conway did well.
RK: That they did. The trial by fire seems to be working out for them.
Z: The only shame being they will probably be split up this weekend. Would like to see them getting a bit more of a run together and Treviso would offer more of a challenge.
RK: That move off the restart from Reid was something else.
Z: Yes it sure was, it was nice to see them give as good as they got.
RK: You wouldn't want to expect to see that too often from the young fellas!
Z: [laughs]. I dunno it's been the hallmark of a few of the older heads - reckon it's probably rubbing off.
RK: I certainly hope so. Cooney has come on a long way too. Looks to be turning into a quality scrumhalf if he keeps it up. Nice physicality to him too.
Z: All in all I have to say I was very satisfied with the pack. Take Cronin, Jenno and Leo out and it was very wet behind the ears, but it impressed a lot. Was interesting to see Roux also; a quiet enough performance, but on his debut it’s for the best I guess.
RK: Aye. Ben Marshall had an excellent game at blindside, I'd expect to be seeing more of him over the season.
Z: Yep he did indeed, definitely one for the future and a great backup to have on the bench when we get deeper into the season
RK: Looking a bit rosier after a win now isn't it? How about next weekend though.
Z: Well there is talk of bringing some of the mainstays back.
RK: They should be being released back out of the mandatory player management commitments at this stage, so I'd imagine we'll see a few. Who'd you like to see on yourself?
Z: To be honest I would like to see McFadden, O’Driscoll and Heaslip back in alongside Reddan, not necessarily all at the same time. I think keep the pack as is - maybe swap Strauss for Cronin but add Heaslip at the back and alternate between McFadden, O’Driscoll, Reid & Macken. Make sure one of Reid/Macken is on the pitch with Ferg/BOD. Treviso are a big team and I would like to see how Carr handles it.
RK: I think you're spot on about the centres there, we need bolstering, but we need to develop the young fellas too. A split rotation is probably the way to do it. Other than at centre I'd like to see no more than a sprinkling of internationals at any one time. We're going to need to step up the defence big time for the Italians; centres are going to be crucial.
Z: Yep - and for me it's important the youth get a bit of experience dealing with big centres now. Also see how the scrum holds out against a big unit. As far as I recall we had a fair bit of weight on Dragons.
RK: Why is it that Italian packs are always massive? Would suggesting that it's all the pasta be a bit racist?
Z: It's not the pasta it’s their mother's cooking!
RK: It's as well they can't find a decent fly half of Italian blood or we'd be in serious trouble.
Z: Indeed. Instead they will opt for another SH passport jobbie.
RK: The aul ‘Aussie that sticks out like a sore thumb in the team sheet’ move? Yeah, I'd imagine so. Anyhow, they banana-skinned us there 2 years ago, but with a sprinkling of internationals back into the team how do you think we'll do?
Z: It will be tough and if there is only a light sprinkling of international talent, very tight. I reckon we would deny them the losing bonus just - but the main win for us would be the experience.
RK: I'd say you're right. Their tails will be up after their last home win against the hairsprays though. We'll need to take our chances when they're there.
Z: Oh yes. But it's also worthwhile pointing out the hairsprays are more Head & Shoulders these days.
RK: [laughs] I have to ask you by the way, what was up with Leo the Lion? He looked, well, wrong...
Z: Yeah he looked like he had been sucking on the helium too much. Kinda like a bobble head.
RK: I thought it looked like someone had sat on his head. He wasn't his usual self either. We may need to set up a Leo protection society.
Z: Indeed. Hmm. Lions for Leinster?
RK: A Lion's Alliance?
Z: Yep, let’s go with that. Pint?
A transcript from @RugbyKino in conversation with Leinster supporters whose identities have been removed for their own protection. All opinions given are the individual’s own, possibly whilst under the influence.