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Tuesday 27 September 2016

Cronin happy to up his game

Byrne and Tracy are ready to test senior Leinster hookers

Leinster hooker Seán Cronin. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Leinster hooker Seán Cronin. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

How Keith Wood would have loved the role of Dane Coles for the All Blacks, wreaking havoc in the wider channel.

Seán Cronin can be Leinster's version of Coles, if not for his flamboyance, for his willingness to embrace change.

"It's good to see a hooker out in the wide channels getting pats on the back for being out there. He's a super player," said Cronin about the rampaging Coles.

The way the explosive Ireland hooker fixed Edinburgh's defence last Friday, expecting a trademark A-to-B straight line burst, to set Isa Nacewa away for his try with a no-look pass suggested a new subtlety to his game.

"Yeah, I suppose it was a nice little push pass out to Isa on the weekend and it managed to get him over for a score," he said.

The broadening of Leinster's ambition with the ball was underpinned by the upskilling of even seasoned internationals.

"There was a big focus in the skill aspect of every player in the squad during the pre-season," said the Limerick man.

"I think it's been evident in the few games we've had that we're keeping the ball alive and looking to offload.

"If it's on - it's hard to quantify whether it's on or not - we trust each other's skill level to be able to pull it off,

"You could see at the weekend glimpses of it again, and in the first few games, lads keeping the ball alive in contact; not being stupid to push the pass.

"It seems to be working for us so far."

It certainly works well for Cronin. His pace and power demand immediate respect, thus leaving speed into space for those around him.

The crop of hookers coming through, like Bryan Byrne and James Tracy, are not exactly old school when it comes to athleticism.

"They're two super players coming up. Both have different areas of their game that they're quite good at," added Cronin.

"Brian has very good feet and is a good passer and James is strong over the ball."

There are three exciting options there as Richardt Strauss battles back from a knee injury.

"Richardt is out for another few weeks. I'm not too sure about his return to play.

"But, there's good competition and good depth there in an area where four or five years ago there wasn't that much depth in the club."

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