Monday 24 October 2016

Des Berry - Sexton: We must follow the kids' example

Sexton and Gopperth set for one-on-one battle of 10s

Johnny Sexton Photo:Sportsfile
Johnny Sexton Photo:Sportsfile
Leinster Coach Leo Cullen Photo:Sportsfile

Leinster have been talking about the improvements they have made since that horrific first day Champions Cup fall to Wasps at The RDS.

It has been totalled in a winning sequence that has rebooted their PRO12 form to jump Leinster to second with a game to spare on The Scarlets.

Alas, the groove was found too late to make a difference in Europe where the new kids on the UCD block eked out a first win in five last week.

Now, the big boys are back in blue and it is they that will have to follow the lead.

"For us it's about all of us having something slightly different to play for," stated Jonathan Sexton.

"Whether it's going into the Six Nations squad or trying to get your jersey in Leinster for next week, a big match here against The Dragons. We all have something to play for."

Sexton's call for Leinster to do The Champions Cup justice after the PRO12 win at the Ospreys by playing dead rubbers as though they are live contests worked against Bath.

"Guys came in last week and showed us what needs to be done," he said.

"Fair play to those young guys getting their first start, they really stepped it up.

"We've got to follow them now."

This game is all about finding form, keeping it and making incremental gains through a long, gruelling season.

"I think we're on the right track at the moment," said Sexton.

"Obviously we got off to a slow start and that wasn't ideal.

"I suppose, preparation, looking back now, at the time we said it wasn't an excuse.

"But, now that we have been together a lot longer and we're getting to grips with each other and with the game plan, I think you can see our performances just getting better and better.

"Hopefully, it continues like that and we can keep the momentum going," he said.

The recalibration is already rolling with Leinster determined to let their PRO12 League do their talking in terms of a better qualification seeding for The Champions Cup next season.

"But yeah, I do think that with the guys that are coming through and the guys that are staying on, and hopefully a few more guys coming in, I think we'll be in a really good place for the rest of this season, and then we can look at Europe again next year."

Right now, Leinster will engage a Wasps club on the road back to former glories.

The grasping of a bonus-point win in Coventry would make Toulon's life extremely trying in Pool One where they have to go to The Recreation Ground given the French 'galacticos' have managed just seven tries from five rounds when they really want four from this one.

The old addage that Wasps can only control what is in their hands holds true.

The trigger to Wasps impressive attack is Jimmy Gopperth, the New Zealander who took far too much flak for Leinster's failings last season.

"Obviously I don't know him at all from a personal point of view," said Sexton.

"The lads speak highly of him and he gave a huge amount to the organisation here for the last two years.

"He's a very good player as well," confirmed the Ireland general.

"I've done my analysis on him and he's obviously a big running threat. He's a very good place-kicker.

"So we have to try to take those things away from him."

It looks like it is going to be another one of those in-your-face confrontations that makes this competition so appealing even though Leinster are out of it.

Wasps: C Piutau; J Bassett, E Daly, B Macken, F Halai; J Gopperth, J Simpson; M Mullan, E Shervington, L Cittadini, J Launchbury, B Davies, J Haskell (capt), G Smith, S Jones.

Leinster: R Kearney; Z Kirchner, L Fitzgerald, N Reid, D Kearney; J Sexton (capt), E Reddan; J McGrath, S Cronin, M Moore, D Toner, R Ruddock, D Ryan, J Murphy, J Heaslip.

Verdict: Wasps


Wasps v Leinster (Today, BT SPORT 2, 3.15)

Guys came in last week and showed us what needs to be done. Fair play to those young guys.

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