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Sunday 11 December 2016

Reddan: Winners can't think like losers

Blues scrum-half has no time for negativity

Eoin Reddan at Leinster squad training
Eoin Reddan at Leinster squad training
Rhys Ruddock and Luke Fitzgerald slump off the pitch after losing to Toulon in last Saturday’s Champions Cup clash at the Aviva Stadium

Eoin Reddan took aim at the outside forces that can only pollute the Leinster mindset.

It has been said by a thousand mouths and typed by ten thousand fingers that the once kings of Europe are no longer able to compete - should that be beat - with the best in Europe.

Certainly, this does appear to be the case from their three-year, four-game relationship with Toulon.

Even at home, in the glass-bowl of The Aviva, the chasm in power was just too much.

The way the game is going, it will resemble the other Premiership League sooner rather than later.

The 'galacticos' of Toulon and the financial resources available to the French and English Leagues leave the PRO12 in the halfpenny place.

Is The Champions Cup becoming unwinable for Irish provinces and their PRO12 partners?

Pressure

"Any tournament I've ever won, all I feel after it is relief because the pressure was on me to win it," said Reddan. "It was kind of like, coming to Leinster.

"They had won the Heineken Cup in 2009 and I was asking myself what have I put in that trophy cabinet? What have I delivered while I'm here?

"That's the way champions think."

Fair enough! Winning starts with believing you can do what has not been done or what it is said can not be done.

"External comments that 'you can't do it, you can't do it, you don't have enough', they don't work. They're not helping," he pointed out.

The fast-changing landscape of the professional game is making for a financial imbalance that eschews the laws of probability in favour of the deepest pockets.

What has served the Irish provinces so well since Ulster won the European Cup in 1999 may now deter them from moving with the times.

Financial muscle, used properly, can be all-powerful.

Toulon are showing that you can put a price on the game as long as the right structures and systems are on site to complement the big money buys.

"Yeah, but it's still not the same as you can't do it, or you shouldn't do it," said Reddan. The objective reasoning is that better players make fewer mistakes, make better decisions, give away less penalties and take more of the opportunities.

"There's no big secret. Teams play certain ways and you do you're video analysis and counter-act them," countered Reddan.

"We didn't, I suppose, stay in the game or keep the intensity of the game.

"Penalties are a big part of that, especially when we're defending quite well, which we were."

The point was offered up for consideration that Toulon make less mistakes because they have the best players in the world.

"I mean, look, I'm not going to admit to you that we can't beat Toulon," he batted back.

"I think we could have beaten them and if we'd played like we did in the first-half for 80 minutes then ye'd all be coming in and asking 'what's different? what's changed?' and I'd probably say 'we gave away less penalties'."

Munster once ruled through their Rolls Royce pack of streetwise forwards and the control exerted by an out-half now working at Racing Metro.

Leinster assumed the mantle of magnificence with a more cerebral game with a genius at its' heart.

Reddan's swiftness into the ball and smart dispatch of it was central to what Leinster did so well for the first forty.

Toulon simply took control of the pace of the game ad let their men do what they do.

And Leinster couldn't do anything about it.

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