herald

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Sean Cronin positive Leinster can be pitch perfect

Hooker sure players will step up and deliver sting to Wasps

Sean Cronin
Sean Cronin

Seán Cronin has a warning for Wasps.

"It's about getting everything right on the day. It's about getting an 80-minute performance that we know is there. We know it's going to come out soon," he said.

The Ireland hooker harbours the view that it "would be foolish" to see himself as Leinster's first-choice hooker, despite the fact that Cronin has started all five PRO12 League matches for 360 minutes of game time against Richardt Strauss's 61 minutes against Zebre on Saturday.

Cronin needs Strauss like Ryan Air needs Aer Lingus.

He thrives on the competitive element that burns inside every professional player.

"It's great to have Richardt back because I think I personally perform better when there's someone there breathing down your neck, I think it brings the best out of me and him," said Cronin.

"We've worked well over the last few seasons coming up against each other. I just think it's great to have the competition."

The injuries to Seán O'Brien and Cian Healy have taken away a lot of Leinster's explosive carrying capacity with Rhys Ruddock and Cronin stepping up in that area of the game.

"Well, from the past, I'd like to look to get my hands on the ball, but I think losing two players of their calibre, in attack and defence, Seanie and Cian, other lads have to step up, I think.

"Rhys has been absolutely fantastic this season in terms of ball carrying and, maybe, we need another few guys to step up.

"We can't leave it to two or three guys. We've all got to pitch in and maybe we need to up the work rate in terms with two massive games coming up," Cronin added.

familiar

It all starts with Wasps coming to the RDS on Sunday. Their coach, Dai Young, is a familiar face for Leinster as the former Cardiff Blue has taken his brand of rugby to the Premiership.

"I think he's brought his own standards to how they play," said Cronin.

"He was a front-row forward but even with Cardiff they had an expansive game and now Wasps have the same. They look to bring the wingers, Tom Varndell and Christian Wade, into the game. The back-row is full of big, powerful men, so they have weapons all over the pitch. He's a very intelligent coach who uses his resources well".

The new format of the Rugby Champions Cup has shrunk the number of entrants from 24 to 20 with a new qualification process emerging in the PRO12 League this season.

Leinster have escaped the harsh reality that, say, Ulster have to contemplate in Pool Three where they will deal with Toulon, Leicester Tigers and the Scarlets.

Leinster will delve into Pool Two against Wasps, Castres Olympique and Harlequins.

"I think there's tough groups and then extremely tough groups," he said.

"Yeah, if you look across the board at some of the other groups they are extremely difficult.

"But if you look at Wasps form and how they beat Bath (on Saturday), they have immense talent available and guys coming back like Bradley Davies.

"Castres have been showing some patchy form, but they're very dangerous at home and always seem to front up," said Cronin.

Have Leinster dodged a bullet? "I don't know if we've dodged. It's going to be extremely tough".

"It's European week and there's a certain edge about the place. It's a big week."

A win would bring instant momentum to Leinster. A loss would invite unwanted questions about the direction they are moving in.

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