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Sunday 17 December 2017

Home rule on Leinster minds

O'Connor's clarion call to Blues

MATT O'CONNOR
MATT O'CONNOR

This is not coach Matt O'Connor's first roller-coaster ride.

The Australian is a four season veteran of the European Cup, three of them at Leicester Tigers, one at Leinster, as he makes his way into his fifth.

"The reality of Europe always has been - and I don't think it's changed - is that you have to win your home games," he stated.

DYNAMIC

"The dynamic of less teams and stronger teams is that you can probably go through with less points. You can probably afford to be at home with less points.

"But, the focus of winning your home games and getting the most out of every home game hasn't changed at all".

With increased revenues come increased financial rewards for clubs and for players. The heavy investment in muscle is something Leinster have always had to man-handle.

O'Connor came to Leinster from the legendary culture of forward brutality at Leicester.

"I think, across the course of the European competition the ability to dominate up front is massive," conceded O'Connor.

He has never been one to play the sympathy card and he was not about to start yesterday when handed the opportunity to act the victim of circumstances beyond his control.

"It is pointless," he said. "There's no question that, with no Marty (Moore) and no Cian (Healy), we're a little bit dented there and a little bit under-strength in that area.

"But, there's a lot of very good kids there who have played a lot of minutes for us.

"They've been prepped-up all the way through pre-season.

"We had a very, very similar situation to that, this time last year, where Marty came on against The Ospreys and now we're talking about Marty as a Test prop.

"There's no issue as to how good those guys can be.

"There is over their experience, but there is no better place than The RDS on Sunday to get some very, very valuable top-end experience," added O'Connor.

And so the story goes.

Leinster have been stripped of eight Ireland internationals, two of them in the front row, three in the back row.

While this has been happening, Wasps have been bedding Italian prop Lorenzo Cittadini and hooker Carlo Festuccia and England's Matt Mullan into the front row with bruising Springbok Ashley Johnson in the form of his life and James Haskell reborn in the back row.

The problem for Wasps is that they have not been able to match their home form with what they do away from home.

Leinster will have to produce a compelling case to get what they want from a Pool including Castres and Harlequins.

"You have got to have good players. You have got to have good systems. You have got to have good processes.

"The objective is to top the group and on top of that to get enough points to end up with a home quarter-final.

"There's no one we can't beat involved in it".

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