Thursday, December 06, 2012

Keego on…Marcel et Michelin

Do the simple things right, and Leinster can prevail, says Keego…

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So this week you catch me at a point of frustration I haven’t felt since a 14 year old man-boy. For the women folk reading, you will never understand. Although I think it is the same thing as a 30 year old woman reading 50 shades of grey for the first time…….

The green jersey has been washed, neatly folded and put away for a few months. The clean blue jersey (retro of course) is back out and on the back.

We are facing a fairly mammoth task against Clérmont over the next two weeks. I am seriously worried about how we have started. At the risk of sounding like a broken record record record record, we just are not where we should be.

There are positives coming out of the November games. That being we have 2 more leaders on the pitch. Captain Heaslip and first officer (Star Trek reference) Sexto are now fully fledged leaders of men. This is exactly what we need in these games. This along with blue captain Cullen in the second row means we have leaders all over the pitch. Which is hugely important. No heads will drop with these lads on the pitch, which has been happening when the lads have been missing.

Since the Munster match we have won 6 and only lost 1. This is a great stat considering the lack of first teamers mixed with academy players who haven’t performed, I am not being negative, I am just saying what has been happening. We spoke about how to fix this in our last blog. Winning teams know how to win even when playing badly. Along with this stat, another important one is that we have won 5 of the 6 games we have played against Clérmont. Not by big margins, but that does get into the heads of the players. Especially those that have been on the losing end.

The media are shouting about the unbeaten streak in the Std Marcel Michelin, 50 matches unbeaten. This is nothing important. This is just a streak that has to be broken at some stage. Thomond Park used to be a fortress but that never bothered us.

The things we have to worry about are the Clérmont team. Big strong players who are strong in all areas. Big scrum, inventive and speed.

We need to, as usual, do the simple things right. They will aim at the scrum. They will try to bully us from there. Our front row needs a big game. I have no doubt they will front up. Mike Ross has been getting some really unfair stick recently, rumours abounded that Kidney played him against Fiji after what he saw as a bad performance against the ‘boks. This is yet another stupid decision from Kidney if this is true. He didn’t give Bent a full 80 minutes out of spite.

Sorry about that tangent. It is just I am reminded about kidney’s vindictiveness on a regular basis.

If we can hold them in the scrum, that will be one point of attack for the opposition that we can stroke off the threat board. Lineouts need to run smoothly. I don’t have worries about this, the lads are running well in this area.

We have the return of Sean O’Brien to Heineken rugby. It is not easy for him to be at 100% after two games, and facing Clérmont. But this is the time for him to get back to smashing people. We need the old Seanie back. He played at 8 for the last two games, so he should start there with Heaslip doing the dirty work at 7. Where do we fit in Jennings, who deserves to start every game he can based on his start to the season.

Anyway, here is my team for the weekend. Feel free to comment/abuse/discuss as usual on twitter @nkeegan.

  1. Healy

  2. Strauss

  3. Ross

  4. Cullen

  5. Browne

  6. McLaughlin / Jennings

  7. Heaslip / Jennings

  8. O’Brien

  9. Boss – need more physicality against Clérmont

  10. You know who!

  11. Mc Fadden

  12. Darce

  13. Madigan

  14. Kearney

  15. Isa

Some controversial choices there, perhaps. But I think this is a well balanced team. With some great subs to come on at the hour mark.

What do you think?

Until next week…..

Keego (@nkeegan): Newbie blogger, former professional wrestler, sometime attempted rugby player (@TheThirsty3rds), professional procrastinator and attempted musician with a fondness for long walks on the bar, tea and the couch. Opinionated Leinster fan and constant gardener.

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