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Saturday 16 December 2017

Time for Leinster to repay the faith from O'Connor

Leinster v The Ospreys, The RDS,

Tomorrow (KO 5.15) Live TG4/SS2

You couldn't blame Matt O'Connor if he had copied what another Australian allegedly did by trashing the dressing room at the Aviva Stadium last Saturday.

He will have Ian Madigan back in the centre, Eoin Reddan at scrum-half and Dominic Ryan at blindside with Rhys Ruddock and Gordon D'Arcy on the bench.

There is another start for the impressive Bryan Byrne at hooker in light of Richardt Strauss's tight hamstring.

Ultimately, it is O'Connor's head on the block, his contract at stake when Leinster rock-up to a match without the right attitude to overcome.

These boys in Blue fell a country mile short of the standards set by themselves, for themselves against a fired-up, bottom-dollar Treviso.

Leinster were shoddy, indisciplined, disorganised in defence, beaten in the contact area and oh-so-lucky not to lose.

The League table doesn't lie. The Italians were rock-bottom before Sunday.

They still are after their first draw to follow seven straight defeats.

It had to have left a sour taste in Leinster's mouth. And so it should. It simply wasn't anyway near good enough.

In such circumstances, there is no better time to turn from an away day at what is currently the worst club in the League to a home date with the best.

"We need to have a hell of a lot better mindset or head space going into this weekend," warned Leo Cullen.

"Ospreys are a totally different proposition. They go hard at the ball in defence. They go hard at you to test you out," he said.

"When they have the ball, they'll take us on. They'll be confrontational, whether that's with the drive or picking and going at the fringes."

The Ospreys were as close to perfect as possible before Ulster took them down up in Ravenhill last Friday night.

They have their own reasons to bounce back.

For all of Leinster's roller-coasting this season, they have pounded out the most tries in the PRO12, 25 from eight rounds, averaging out at just over three-per-game.

Despite the untimely timidity in Treviso, Leinster have not been beaten in their last five since that sickening blow against Munster at The Aviva.

The RDS will hold no fear for the Welsh club. They were able to outplay Leinster in the Grand Final in 2010 and sneak another title in 2012.

Leinster: Z Kirchner; D Fanning, F McFadden, I Madigan, D Kearney; J Gopperth, E Reddan (capt); M Bent, B Byrne, T Furlong, M McCarthy, K Douglas, D Ryan, J Murph, J Conan.

Verdict: Leinster

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