Friday 19 January 2018

Danger that Leinster will take foot off gas

LEINSTER have been here before, the timing of these fixtures with the westeners have an uncanny familiarity about them.

Psychologically, this will be their toughest test for a while, but is that not the way it has always been?

It's worth considering the backdrop to tomorrow evening's clash. Not only will Leinster be travelling to the Sportsground on the back of two defeats in Galway, but in light of the recent Irish squad announcement there are a number of sub-plots that surround this specific encounter.

Leinster, in particular, are coming off two emotionally-charged games in Europe, that in itself makes tomorrow's game a big challenge for them. Throw into the mix the mood of Connacht players like Fionn Carr, who could argue that he has been hard done by not making Declan Kidney's squad of 34.

The incentive, you could suggest, is in his hands with his team enjoying home advantage, but a lot will depend on what frame of mind Leinster turn up in on the day.

There have been a few injuries, and no doubt Joe Schmidt is becoming quickly accustomed to the fact that he does not have total control over all of his players.

The likes of Luke Fitzgerald and Brian O'Driscoll may have been held back regardless of their fitness because of the players' management scheme which does seem to have its pros and cons, but in light of the upcoming November games such decisions are probably the right call.

For the likes of Jamie Heaslip, Seán O'Brien and other internationals in the squad the timing of this game can always play on the mind.


Playing with the attitude of holding something back in order to avoid injury for the international series is never a smart move.

They and the other internationals know this, but as those thoughts always linger in the back of the mind, it does take a certain mental toughness not to allow it to hinder performance.

Leinster, you could say, have the momentum but I expect that it will take one hell of an effort to get anything out of Eric Elwood's rejuvenated side tomorrow evening.

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