herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

McLaughlin is prepared for cardiff duty

Flanker happy to supply experience as Leinster aim for better after Aironi

Coach Dai Young has to go all the way back to 2007 for the last time Cardiff Blues put one over on Leinster. He won't get a better chance to rectify that than this evening in Wales.

In fact, this is the meeting of two clubs on form. Cardiff are looking for four straight in the Magners League; Leinster for eight in the Magners and Heineken Cup.

It will take authority of leadership from a side short of that valuable commodity to spring what would be a surprise given the quality available to Young.

Thankfully, Leo Cullen is back to take the captaincy, while flanker Kevin McLaughlin is back on track and he is getting close to his best at the same time that Leinster are rolling forward.

"I am one of the more senior players in the squad on Saturday. I enjoy the greater responsibility. I am more inclined to talk on the pitch than when some of our leaders are around," said McLaughlin.

"We are trying to foster a culture of young players coming through and giving them responsibility. They can't always rely on the older lads."

Coach Joe Schmidt's three-quarter line is light on experience. The 17-stone centre Eamon Sheridan should be able to provide life beyond the gain line.

Further out, Eoin O'Malley, the gifted Andrew Conway and the languid Niall Morris are dangerous on the ball with the immaculate Isa Nacewa sweeping around from full-back.

Leinster's game plan will hinge on how Isaac Boss and Ian McKinley combine at half-back as long as their forward pack can break even in the tight.

McLaughlin knows Cardiff will give Leinster 'the blues' unless there is a marked improvement from what happened against bottom club Aironi last Thursday week.

"They are a tougher test. We are preparing that way. They have a lot threats out wide with two fast wingers in Tom James and Richard Mustoe," said McLaughlin.

"They have a very strong back row. Xavier Rush will be coming at us off the base of the scrum. Martyn Williams will be around the breakdown.

"They have dangers all over the field. They have a strong set-piece. They are a clever team around the lineout. We have to up our game and be a lot sharper."

The Leinster pack is quite a strong unit with three first choice players on board. Cullen will be the leader behind the front row durability of Richardt Strauss and Heinke van der Merwe.

The arrowhead back row of Dominic Ryan, last week's captain Rhys Ruddock and McLaughlin will be charged with subduing Cardiff's fine breakaway unit of Rush, Williams and Andre Pretorius.

This vital area could be where the game is won or lost. McLaughlin's experience will balance out the energy and power of Ryan and Ruddock.

Cardiff Blues: D Fish; R Mustoe, G Evans, D Hewitt, T James; C Sweeney, T Slater; J Yapp, G Williams, T Filise, D Jones, P Tito (capt), A Pretorius, M Williams, X Rush.

Leinster: I Nacewa; A Conway, E O'Malley, E Sheridan, N Morris; I McKinley, I Boss; H van der Merwe, R Strauss, C Newland, L Cullen, (capt), D Toner, K McLaughlin, D Ryan, R Ruddock.

CARDIFF BLUES v LEINSTER

live tonight rté2 (ko 6.30)

Promoted articles

Entertainment News