Brian O'Driscoll assesses where it's all going wrong for Leinster and Munster
Both Irish provinces have had a less than stellar start to the season.15:31 Saturday 19 December 2015, 15:31 19 Dec 2015
This year's festive period comes at a particularly low ebb for many of the Irish provinces, as both Munster and Leinster find themselves in a slump in Europe and domestically.
Having lost all their games in the Champions Cup so far, things are looking bleak for Leinster fans, but O'Driscoll noted that despite the bad mood, there was at least one promising sign.
"The one upside to what's gone on the last few weeks is that we've seen the emergence of Josh van der Flier. I think he was very good against Toulon for the time he was on, made a huge tackle count, he's not an enormous guy but packs a serious punch. He's really shaping into a very, very nice seven".
However, O'Driscoll noted that there are four quality players in that position at the moment at Leinster, but with a bright prospect like van der Flier playing out of his skin, he added "you'd have some sort of concerns for guys that aren't producing now, because there might not be spots for them in the squad next year"
"For someone like Dominic Ryan, maybe the smart move is to move to another province, it could be any of the three" in order to get more rugby.
He added that the concentration for head coach Leo Cullen will now be to get players into a groove and get some confidence back: "They're thinking about getting a bit of continuity going so they can pick things up in the PRO 12 when these two games finish and go through the Christmas period and get a few results. That's now got to be of the utmost importance, finishing in the top four, ideally in the top two".
On the back of a poor performance for Leinster last weekend, O'Driscoll stated that perhaps Johnny Sexton could use a short break away from the game, arguing that he probably trained all through the summer in advance of the World Cup and hasn't taken any time off.
"I think he [Cullen] could do worse than giving him a break now. I know Johnny well; he's such an intense person and he takes his rugby so, so seriously, he's one of the best professionals out there. It has a major effect on his mood throughout the week, how well the team's going and how well he's going personally, so I wouldn't say he's great to live with at the moment!".
With the crowd in Munster beginning to turn on their own players, O'Driscoll also offered his take on where it seems to be going wrong for Anthony Foley's side.
"At the moment, granted they don't have Peter O'Mahony or Tommy O'Donnell, put them together with CJ Stander, the way he's paying that will absolutely enhance the team".
However he added that Ian Keatley, Dennis Hurley, Keith Earls and Simon Zebo have been quiet, despite the latter two looking busy without getting much possession.
When speaking about the boos that Keatley received last weekend O'Driscoll said it looks to be a case of the fans having "been treated to so many good years that they got a little bit complacent with it. When it started going off for them a small bit, you would expect your crowd to hang in there with you a little bit more.
"But there is an onus on players too to give them something to shout about, and that was always something that was mentioned in dressing rooms. When things weren't going particularly well for you [...] you just need to create magic moments to inspire the crowd to get into full voice".
When asked whether or not Connacht were now the best coached team in the country, he said "it's hard to argue that they're not. I was very very impressed with how they looked from a coaching capacity in the Munster game. What I really like was that we saw some plays and intricacies in phase that no one else is doing, and I like forward thinkers like that".
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