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Schmidt to discuss new deal with Willis

LEINSTER coach Joe Schmidt will "sit down and have a chat" with Cillian Willis about extending a short-term contract that has now reached its natural conclusion.

For a skinny little man, he has got some fight in him. ‘Willy’ came in and did a fantastic job for us. We will speak to him in the week that follows this week off,” said Schmidt, following the 30-20 come-from-behind win over Connacht.

Eoin Reddan and Isaac Boss were set to return home from the World Cup today with the rest of the Irish squad, knowing that there is a less than a three-week window to the next PRO12 contest away to Edinburgh on October 28.

Those two will certainly want to play. However, a problem arises if either one gets hobbled by injury.

At this stage of his development, it is not a case of whether Ireland U20 nine John Cooney is good enough to play at this level.

It is whether he is ‘ready’ to |step into the breach if such a circumstance occurs. Willis replaced Cooney at half-time in week one and has remained in place to start the past five matches.

The next phase of the season will incorporate a stretch of 13 straight matches. It will put a strain on resources, especially in the specialist positions.

On Saturday, Leinster were shown up for their naivety and inexperience in defence once Connacht could move into their phase play to build a significant |20-8 lead at the interval.

From there, half-backs Willis and Ian Madigan orchestrated a rebound of impressive proportions. Full-back Isa Nacewa kicked two penalties and Madigan’s 55m monster sliced the deficit to three.

Centre Luke Fitzgerald’s slick inside-to-out finish was the game breaker that allowed Nacewa to close out the game with his goal-kicking to take Leinster into joint second with Munster, six points into the slipstream of the |unbeaten Ospreys.

The Welsh club’s smash and |grab 17-13 edge over Munster at Thomond Park on Saturday sent out a clear message. Scott Johnson is all about rebuilding a club that has been for too long sunk by hype rather than buoyed by achievement.

The indication is that the 2010 champions will be the strongest and, possibly, only challenge to Leinster and Munster for the title.