Saturday, November 21, 2015

Leinster slippy, scrappy, stranded

by Emma McGarry

Emma McGarry

Leinster v Wasps was one of the rare fixtures I didn’t get to attend in the RDS. I’m (almost) glad I didn’t. It’s a while since I’ve seen Leinster fall apart like they did last Sunday, it was especially disappointing considering the fuss made over the internationals returning and supposedly bringing the squad back to full strength. We were well and truly stung by Wasps.

The blues never looked like winning, brief flashes of excitement from Madigan, Reid (who is in flying form) and of course 20-year-old Ringrose who, to an extent, has been the light at the end of the tunnel for Leinster’s season so far this year.

Leinster at the moment have an abundance of big names who aren’t performing at the level they should be. Every player is responsible for the embarrassing defeat to Wasps and every player needs to step up to the plate against Bath. The older brigade are, in my opinion, holding us back at the moment, I don’t think they are adapting to this newer style of European rugby at all. You can’t blame Leo Cullen for this, yes he needs to look at selection and reinvent the game plans but what more can he do if his players aren’t performing? There’s a very visible gap between the rugby the lively academy grads are playing and the rugby our pros are playing. A gap that needs to be closed.

Sexton is clearly frustrated that he hasn’t slotted perfectly back into place at Leinster but surely we all knew not to expect that. Uncharacteristically poor at the moment, somewhat over eager to perform and it’s proving to be his downfall so far.

If there’s any positive to be taken from last weekend it’s the promising talent of the young blood like Garry Ringrose and Noel Reid, who have both been left out of this week’s selection. Mistake? Could very well be. Scrum half Eoin Reddan is also replaced by Isaac Boss with Luke McGrath on the bench.

Richardt Strauss and Sean O’Brien are not fit while Jack Conan will be unavailable for up to 10 weeks due to a foot fracture. I’m not sure how the already struggling pack will fair without them. I’m a lot more concerned with the forwards than I am with the backs. It begins and ends up front with the forwards for Leinster this week.

A few players returning from injury such as Ben Te’o, Luke Fitzgerald, Rhys Ruddock and Isa Nacewa as captain may strengthen the side. On paper a very solid lineup but we’ve learned the hard way, it’s those 80 minutes and the 15 players on the pitch that matter.

Leinster v Bath: Isa Nacewa CAPTAIN, Fergus McFadden, Ben Te’o, Luke Fitzgerald, Dave Kearney, Johnny Sexton, Isaac Boss, Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Hayden Triggs, Rhys Ruddock, Jordi Murphy, Jamie Heaslip.

Emma McGarry (@EmmaKMcGarry) - Hugely interested in all aspects of rugby. Supporter of Irish and Leinster Rugby. "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad" - Brian O'Driscoll


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