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Will puts down another marker

Connors adds more depth to flying Leinster back row

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Will Connors of Leinster in action against Toyota Cheetahs at the RDS

Will Connors of Leinster in action against Toyota Cheetahs at the RDS

SPORTSFILE

Will Connors of Leinster in action against Toyota Cheetahs at the RDS

Ireland coach Andy Farrell has demonstrated trust in how he has gone about restoring Ireland's confidence.

Of course, the acid test will be reserved for Twickenham next Sunday and the breakdown will be a battleground.

Will England coach Eddie Jones persist with his ploy to pick openside Tom Curry at No 8?

This is a tactic stolen from the Wallabies, where David Pocock has assumed that mantle at eight for some time now, with side-kick Michael Hooper occupying the rover's shirt.

Ireland have stayed true to the more traditional balance in the back row, starting with Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander and either Peter O'Mahony or Caelan Doris, so far.

What Van der Flier would have seen on Saturday was there can be no rest for good men, as Leinster's Will Connors reminded Farrell what he is all about in Leinster's 36-12 defeat of the Cheetahs at the RDS.

The fact that Van der Flier and Connors are more alike than different in how they play the game means should Wicklow's finest go down, the Kildare man is ready to step up, just like Ronan Kelleher and Max Deegan have done already.

"We do play similar enough and we do try to work together to help each other in different areas," Connors said about the comparison.

"We're doing a lot in the breakdown and you can see Josh, at the moment, he's unbelievable there and it is something I'm trying to work on.

"It is not always the best to be similar players. I still try to drive my own aspects to the game to have my point of difference."

That could well come in his astonishing work-rate, slamming in a team-high 18 tackles without a miss with Rhys Ruddock the only other boy in Blue to reach double figures (10) on Saturday.

More than that, the accuracy of Connors' work was highlighted by how many times he cut down those large South African forwards less than five metres from his own line. The carriers were unceremoniously 'chopped' down in horrific conditions.

"I've been working hard at training and I've been drilling myself into match scenarios," he said. "I'd love to get out there and I feel like I'd be ready for it. I suppose you always have to be ready to be called on.

"There are a few of us there that have been in the background drilling ourselves, like Jack O'Donoghue, we're working hard behind the scenes. We're ready to go."

Leinster moved 15 points clear of Ulster at the head of Conference A, making it 11 from 11 in the PRO14 and touching 400 points. It isn't all about attack either as they have also conceded the least number of points (149) and only Munster can match allowing 20 tries.

The footwork of their forwards is just one thing that sets Leinster apart, as Deegan and Kelleher showed again.

"Whatever conditions were like at the start of the game, they were getting more difficult as the game went on," said coach Leo Cullen. "That bit of footwork, if you could get your nose through the contact as you were being tackled, there was that momentum. "Even as you hit the ground, you got that extra metre. It is very hard to defend then."