Monday 18 December 2017

O'Driscoll racing to keep Leinster momentum

Brian backs Blues to build on Munster gains against Metro

When Brian O'Driscoll is on song, Leinster are in tune. It is truer today than it has ever been.

He is that critical to the cause in what he admits is the "toughest pool he has come across" in his time in the Heineken Cup.

Leinster put their best foot forward against Munster in advance of what amounts to a Heineken Cup 'Group of Death,' including the Blues' first opponents, Top 14 leaders Racing Metro, French champions Clermont-Auvergne and South African-powered Saracens.


"As much as the result was badly needed, we needed the performance to have the confidence going into this week to kick-off our season," O'Driscoll said, in reaction to the trumping of Munster. "We have been very stagnant and poor, particularly in second halfs. Our cohesion hasn't been great. So, it was nice to be able to kick on from three-all at half-time. We know we have it in the tank."

The flicks, the tricks, the no-look passes, the tungsten steel hits and the sense of position for his try made all the difference against Munster. In one performance, he redeemed Leinster and set them back on course for a first day win over Racing Metro in the Heineken Cup on Saturday.

He wanted to find his form two games quicker than the Player Welfare Programme would have expected. Then again, not everything in life can be gauged by the medical and scientific processes. The Munster match left O'Driscoll to nurse a dead leg, a crack on the shoulder and a bang to the knee -- just the typical war wounds dished out by his great rivals.

"I felt better. I was more of an attacking option myself. I got my hands on the ball. Defensively, you are making tackles. Yeah, it's getting there," he offered. "I still have a long way to go to feeling fully confident and feeling as though I am at my best. You just make sure you have a lot of moments in the game when you have a lot of involvement, to get as many touches as you can."

A light has been shone on the season. The doom and gloom has lifted. The priority is on positivity and building momentum into the European Cup.

"You don't overly concern yourself with what happens the week before Heineken because in years gone by we've beaten Munster and then gone and lost the first Heineken Cup game at home.


"I don't think we will use it as the be-all and end-all. Hopefully, we will use it as a building block to a better performance this weekend," he stated.

"The thing about the Heineken Cup pool stage is that it is all about momentum, about getting the early wins. We worry about Racing at the weekend. It is a home game and you need to win your home games."

Suddenly, Racing have hit a mini out-half crisis as Juan Martin Hernandez has been ruled out through injury. The natural replacement Jonathan Wisniewski, 25, is battling the clock to recover from a knock suffered against Toulouse at the weekend.

However, Springbok Francois Steyn, a prodigious kicker, can move forward into the controls as he did to shoot them back to the lead of the Top 14 with a drop goal for a bonus-point loss to Toulouse.

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