Saturday 17 August 2019

Penny to play against Scarlets

Scott Penny
Scott Penny

It looks like Leinster coach Leo Cullen and the Ireland U20s coach Noel McNamara have a decision to make about Scott Penny.

The sensational rookie will be involved with Leinster against Scarlets at the RDS tomorrow night (KO 7.35, TG4 & eir Sport 1).

Cullen is a strong advocate of the national Age Grade system, particularly the 20s as a development pathway to the professional game.

However, Leinster are already without Ireland squad members Sean O'Brien and Josh van der Flier.

In addition, Dan Leavy is still not back from his calf injury and Will Connors is a long-term victim of an anterior cruciate ligament tear.

That leaves Penny as the only natural openside available to Cullen.

Of course, the 19-year-old straight out of St Michael's College has been quite the find, starting three times for Leinster in the League, completing two 80-minute matches.

In an ideal world, Penny would like to tackle The Scarlets in front of him and bounce back up for a shot at England in the Six Nations at Irish Independent Park tomorrow week.

The player management programme could well work against Penny's personal goals, in that regard.

Anyway, Leinster will look to protect, even stretch, their 19-point lead over Edinburgh in Conference B.

This is where the true worth of strength in depth comes into play.

Leinster were remarkably in-synch against The Ospreys and The Dragons when the international brigade were unavailable before Christmas.

This is where the all-inclusive system at training feeds the beast with Leinster Academy players well-versed in the patterns and systems.

"Yeah definitely it's a challenge, but it's a good challenge," noted backs coach Felipe Contepomi.

"That's what brings a bit of a thrill in terms of the new combinations and so on.

"This week is a particularly short week, so we have to do it very quickly.

"You might see young players coming through or they find themselves in a good position, structure and team environment where they can go and express (themselves)."

They should be guided by Ireland full-back Rob Kearney and loose-head Jack McGrath.

The two experienced internationals have been deemed in need of game time by Joe Schmidt ahead of Ireland-England at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday week.

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