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Joe's focus on red tide

LEINSTER coach Joe Schmidt hopes Munster coach Rob Penney "has got as many headaches as I have" when it comes to counting the cost of injury.

Schmidt will definitely have to deal with the Munster juggernaut without captain Leo Cullen (arm), full-back Rob Kearney (haematoma) and Quinn Roux (collar bone).

Declan Kidney will be monitoring the fitness of Kearney in particular ahead of the November internationals against South Africa and Argentina. Centre Gordon D'Arcy (ribs) is also struggling to make the Munster game, while scrum-half Isaac Boss (shoulder) is out; another nine Eoin Reddan (quad) is touch-and-go.

Setback

This comes right on top of injuries to Sean O'Brien (hip), Luke Fitzgerald (neck), Rhys Ruddock (hip), Eoin O'Malley (hip), Aaron Dundon (toe) and Dominic Ryan (ankle). "I would have to say that our injury toll is such that it is pretty difficult for us at the moment. Hopefully, as those guys filter in we will still be in a position to fight on two fronts," Schmidt said.

Schmidt talked of the Connacht debacle as "a setback. It's not anything that we can't overcome, I don't think. We can't really change what happened. We're not happy. I'm not happy. The players are not happy with what happened. I actually think Connacht are a pretty good side and, if you go there and you're just a little bit underprepared and not physically up for it, they'll put a hole in you. And they certainly did to us.

"We can't do anything about that but what we can do is prepare better, have our mindset better for this weekend, and we know that we have to because Munster, as much as I'd be complimentary about Connacht, I think they are a step up," he said.

Leinster will have to make improvements in all areas. The commitment to the collision has to be all-embracing. The right attitude is half the battle; execution the other half in defence and attack. And what about Schmidt's impressions of the new look Munster? "Pretty good. (They have) real structure to their game, real width to their game.

"That's giving them attacking opportunities. I really like the way they are using (Casey) Laulala and (Keith) Earls to both threaten and link and offer opportunities to guys wider out.

Conundrums

"(Simon) Zebo is in really good form. He took four high balls out of four, all of them contested under pressure. He has improved that element of his game. Doug's Doug (Howlett). They have a few conundrums as well. Ian Keatley has done really well. He has been at full-back and he has been at ten, but I hope Rob has got as many headaches as I have.

"I still think that, no matter what the preparations of the two teams coming into a fixture like this or no matter what the previous results are -- you can't change them anyway -- this game gets people a little bit stirred and motivated and concentrated and that's what we need this week."


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