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Tuesday 21 August 2018

tough start suits shane

Jennings relishing 'big test' of league opener in Glasgow

Glasgow will be laced with all the motivation in the world for swift revenge on Leinster after what happened in the Pro12 League final back in May.

The Warriors will host the champions on Friday night at Scotstoun, where just one Irish province has won since November 2012. And it wasn't Leinster.

"From my point of view, we usually go over there in the depths of winter and Glasgow's never the prettiest place to go to," said flanker Shane Jennings.

"It's really tough. It's a big test for us. No, it's a good way to start. They'll use what happened last year as motivation, but they're a good side who are always tough to play over there."

Warhorse

Even an old warhorse like Jennings has to count out the small steps taken in pre-season before the start of the PRO12 League and the bigger strides coming around the corner in Europe well into October.

"It's early doors and it's about hitting the ground running, getting some form at the start and implementing strategies that our coaches want us to do," shared the flanker. If we can do that, we can start thinking of the first couple of rounds of Europe and build a bit of momentum."

All the speculation around coach Matt O'Connor's arrival last season centred around his commitment to vary and stiffen-up Leinster's defence. That happened.

The next part of 'Plan O'Connor' is to power-up the attack where they looked one-dimensional for large tracts of 2013/2014, relying on their timing of form towards the play-offs rather than all-season consistency.

"Last year, we hit form at the right time," agreed Jennings. "At certain stage stages of the season we weren't playing all that well, but we got the results and that's what the season is. The league is a grind at times.

"You can target certain areas when the internationals are away - I think we got 19 out of 20 points at one stage last year - and we're confident in the group we have here that we can compete."

"And it's nice winning trophies. We want to continue to do that."

The retirements of Brian O'Driscoll and Leo Cullen have been filled by the acquisitions of juggernaut centre Ben Te'o and Wallaby lock Kane Douglas.

The depth of domestic talent at Leinster has been demonstrated through the last two winning British & Irish Cup campaigns.

Straining

There are any number of men straining at the leash to break into the back row. Rhys Ruddock, Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip were the chosen three at the end of last season.

Jennings is not done yet. He will scrap it out with the likes of blindsides Kevin McLaughlin and Ben Marshall, who could both spend time at lock.

Then, there are the multi-purpose back rowers Dominic Ryan, Jack Conan, and the injured pair Jordi Murphy and Dan Leavy.

"I obviously want to continue playing well and the coaches have set out what they want me to do so, yeah,

"From the start, it's hitting the ground running, trying to get a decent bit of form and I'm happy to do whatever they want me to do.

"We've had a great bunch of lads in the back-row competing for places. I'm looking forward to competing with them and, yeah, winning trophies".

That is all the matters to him.

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