Here's the latest report from our secret agent who has been keeping tabs on upcoming opposition for both Leinster & Ireland throughout the season...
TARGET - Coventry Wasps (not their official name I know but what say we call them that anyway for mischief)
WHO, WHEN, WHERE - They beat Harlequins 23-3 at the Stoop last Saturday, with both sides at kickoff knowing that Leinster had tonked Castres in the earlier clash.
OFFENCE - Barely needed a strategy...built 17-0 lead in first quarter despite only having 29% possession in that time. When Quins made mistakes, Wasps pounced.
DEFENCE - Line speed fast, 199 tackles as a team, scrambling not bad either, but I was left with the impression that an outhalf with more nous than Botica could have done a lot more damage. By the time Evans took the field it was way too late.
SCRUMS - only lost one on own feed but for the most part Quins had the edge on the shove.
LINEOUTS - Basic rule of thumb seems to be if your name ends in "-askell" you're a lineout target!
BREAKDOWN - Quins were locked in on an offloading game so Wasps could afford to minimize numbers at the breakdown. If they play like this v Leinster though they will be vulnerable to the pick & go.
DISCIPLINE - Danced around the line between "defensive tenacity" and "illegal at the breakdown" and possibly fortunate to have only received the one yellow card.
Haskell - Serious captain's innings on the tackle front with a whopping 28. He is likely to need another one on Saturday.
Hughes - If you're going to run at him, prepare to be smashed. Involved in the majority of big hits with or without the ball.
Simpson - Always looking to snipe around the fringes...though at this level the dummy he sold for his try was made look way too easy.
Wade & Varndell - We all know what they can do with the ball in space but they weren't tested enough defensively. When forced to turn both can be vulnerable.
VERDICT - Quins had the forwards to set up chances but not the backs to finish them. Leinster have both and if we can get accustomed to the unfamiliar surroundings quickly and keep the error count to a minimum we can definitely get ahead of this Wasps side, though you'd have to assume they'll play more positively at their new home.
Eye spy will be back in February checking out Ireland's Six Nations opposition.