Friday, August 21, 2015

Preview : Ulster v Leinster

Guinness PRO12, BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park, Wales 10/1/2015<br />Cardiff Blues vs Leinster <br />Leinster's Noel Reid and Ben Te'o<br />Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Simon King

“That team of four is in there because they're the four best people for the job there's no doubt about it. From the time that Matt left the players wanted Leo to take over so we've got the right guy in there..”


logo post blueI was at a media event during the week for a new fantasy rugby game (more on that next week) and fielding questions was Ian Madigan, and given the Leo Cullen official announcement was earlier that day, it was always going to be the first question - above you see the most substantive part of his reply.

Of course when the appointment was first rumoured/leaked/whatever back in July I posted some thoughts here, and to be honest they haven’t really changed all that much.

I did say I hoped that we’d get someone in as backs coach from the outside, but that’s not to take anything away from Girvan Demspey - a bit like Leo he may be coming into such a big role a tad early but his knowledge of “Leinster culture” has to surely stand to him.

Plus, on the subject of influence from the outside we have to take into account Kurt McQuilkin’s time away from the province...he naturally had much to offer already and will be even better for the southern hemisphere input in recent, the improvement of his deal to a 2-year term is definitely a major positive part of this new regime.

But all that is done.  We can quibble, we can moan, we can be what I call “Leo Nay-Sayers” all we want if we must, but the fact remains that the new season unofficially starts tonight as Leinster head up to Belfast for what now seems to be an annual “friendly” with our northern cousins.  Personally I’d much rather look ahead as it will be fascinating to see how the new coaching ticket has them playing.

The Ulster men seem to have a much stronger side on paper with Messrs Cave & Tuohy dropping down from the Irish set-up though we do have Noel Reid who was supping the Carton House Koolaid for a spell and his centre partnership with Ben Te’o had some positive rewards for Leinster last season so we’ll see how they team up tonight.

I was happy in many ways to learn that Kevin McLaughlin had been handed the Leinster captaincy for the next couple of months, mostly because it probably means he’s close to match fitness.  Tonight Dom Ryan has the honour of leading out the side and he’s another who could well be in World Cup contention now were it not for lengthy spells on the sidelines.

There’s also the chance for a good look at some of Girve the Swerve’s starlets from the successful A squad in recent years...Billy Dardis, Adam Byrne, Josh van der Flier and definitely Cathal Marsh, on whom we could well be relying for some creative out-halfery in the early weeks of the new season.

Unfortunately I can’t make it up the M1 myself...I’m planning instead to stay closer to home and head to UCD for the Women’s 7s at least one of the two days this weekend. 

But that doesn’t mean we’re leaving this match uncovered, mind you...Big Joe Shep is making the trip and will be offering us his views in our feature match writeup on Monday. 

In the meantime we’ll be posting our thoughts on the goings on at Belfield along with some “8-0-reviews” of the weekend’s World Cup warmups.

Prediction for tonight?  Leinster by 7.  A view based on absolutely nothing but my blue goggles of course ;-)  JLP


Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019