Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


Breakdown a focus for Leinster ahead of Ulster clash

Leinster will look to improve at the breakdown and make a few rotations in their squad ahead of t...

Leinster will look to improve at the breakdown and make a few rotations in their squad ahead of their final regular season clash with Ulster this weekend.

Assistant coach Robin McBryde looking ahead to their match against Ulster, stated that the new interpretations of the breakdown laws made it difficult for his side to work effectively in that area against Munster.

“Munster really committed a lot of numbers to the breakdown and made a little bit of a mess of it, so we were really unable to get our flow from an attacking point of view into the game,” McBryde said.

“The referees [have] interpretations as well that we have to get used to.

“I'm not being critical of the referee, because he was playing his first game for six months the same as everybody else was.”

Ross Byrne during Leinster Rugby squad training at UCD in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

McBryde admitted that he did expect there to be a learning curve, as was seen in the Super Rugby Aoteoroa early stages as well.

“We saw down in the Super Rugby down in New Zealand in particular, we saw the first couple of rounds where there was certainly a little bit of a bedding in going on from a player's point of view and a referee’s point of view,” McBryde said.

“Because of those decisions being a little bit harsher in the opening rounds, following on from there, the remainder of the competition was played a very high level.

“There's going to be a little bit of a bedding down processing I suppose and everybody understanding the referees interpretations, etc.

“That's one area that we need to improve on so we will certainly look for an improvement in that area on Saturday.”

Leinster conceded 14 penalties to Munster’s eight on Saturday, while also receiving a yellow card in the second half.

They will need to improve their discipline ahead of their final interpro before the knockout stages.

Despite this, however, Leinster were able to grind out a two-point win, with help from their defensive systems and communication in the backline.

Prop Ed Byrne stated the importance that the communication between Dave Kearney and James Lowe has on their defensive structure and helping the forwards find their positions.

“Having James Lowe and Dave Kearney on the wings helps because the two of them are always communicating and they see the full picture while some of the forwards might be sticking heads into rucks and stuff,” Byrne said.

“They definitely help us out a huge amount, there are sometimes when we are getting back up off the deck and we have to make a decision what way to go and the two of them would definitely help.

“Garry [Ringrose] and Robbie [Henshaw] are brilliant, and obviously Johnny [Sexton], so it is a big help for the forwards having backs like that that are always communicating on the pitch.”

Andrew Conway of Munster in action against James Lowe of Leinster during the Guinness PRO14 Round 14 match between Leinster and Munster at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Speaking about the potential for rotation in the squad, McBryde also gave an update on Dan Leavy’s fitness.

“We’re giving him an extra week and then we’ll see how he reacts but he’s bouncing around the place, literally,” McBryde said.

“He's done so much rehab work and he is that close to get back to playing, so we’re getting that match fitness or that hardness into him, so he’s that close now.”

However, there will potentially be a few changes in the starting XV.

“There’s lots to be decided as you can imagine, there are a lot of things to weigh up,” McBryde said.

“There is one train of thought to make some changes and keep it fresh, and there's another train of thought with regards to giving [players] another run.

“[It comes down to] who's going to benefit from playing again etc., so I think each individual is different [and it is a] different case for positions etc.”

McBryde is wary of the threat that Ulster will pose, so he is making sure that Leinster are well prepared ahead of Saturday.

“They’ll want to gain some momentum in their own sails really going into the semifinals and similarly we've got to be mindful of that as well,” McBryde said.

“We’ve got to build on this momentum and take it into the semifinals and this knockout  rugby stage with us.”

Leinster are scheduled to take on Ulster at the Aviva stadium on Saturday evening, despite the news earlier in the week that several Ulster Academy players had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Both sides will be looking to bring momentum into their semi-finals the following week.


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Dan Leavy Dave Kearney Ed Byrne Gary Ringrose James Lowe Johnny Sexton Leinster Munster Robbie Henshaw Robin McBryde Ulster