Shane Hannon
Shane Hannon

10:53 18 Feb 2020


Leinster Assistant Coach Robin McBryde says the competitiveness within the squad is remarkably positive, and sees Friday's trip to Ospreys as a big chance for fringe players to stake a claim.

The Welshman joined Leo Cullen's coaching ticket after the Rugby World Cup, where he helped coach his home nation to a semi-final place.

The former international hooker was announced as John Fogarty's replacement at Leinster in April of last year, having acted as caretaker coach of Wales on three occasions after thirteen years on the coaching team.

Leinster had an impressive 36-12 Guinness PRO 14 win over the Cheetahs at the weekend in tough conditions, with a trip to his homeland to take on Ospreys next on the agenda this Friday.

Speaking yesterday at Leinster Rugby HQ about the battle for places in the Leinster team, McBryde said the players know what is at stake in every match they play.

"That competitiveness makes your role as a coach much easier, because they know what they're fighting for. When you're going toe-to-toe with the other fine members of the squad... and I don't think it's confined to the back-row.

"I think throughout the team there's good healthy competition and, for the boys that had the opportunity against the Cheetahs that spurred them on and gave them something else to play for.

"It's the first time that I've been exposed to the different emotions of the boys returning from camp and wanting to stake a claim, the boys who've been disappointed who missed out on an opportunity to play against the Cheetahs, who hopefully will get an opportunity this Friday against the Ospreys.

"It comes back to having that competition and wanting to stake a claim and looking ahead to the end of the season and the bigger games that are coming.

McBryde also spoke about man-management, and players using disappointment if they aren't selected to their advantage.

"Leo [Cullen]'s in charge of that and those conversations, and rightly so - he's Leinster through and through. He puts Leinster first ahead of everything else - the team comes first.

"The players have got to deal with that disappointment. You're not asking a player not to be disappointed, there'd be something wrong if they weren't disappointed.

"They respect the decision, get on with it, and do what's best for the team. That's just, unfortunately, one of the worst parts of coaching is having to have those conversations. Luckily enough Leo does them all!"

The 49-year-old was also asked about the dangers of complacency, given Leinster's impressive 17-game winning streak, but was firm in his belief that it has not seeped into the squad.

"It depends on how you look at a situation. I look at it from the point of view of, there's pressure on you now to perform. And then if you perform well enough, you may get an opportunity next week.

"Everybody is aware of what's ahead as well, there [are] some big games already coming ahead of us. And if they want to be involved in it, or involved in those games, then they're going to have to perform.

"It's a different type of pressure, so I don't see complacency anywhere near that myself."

Ospreys are the opposition this Friday night for Leinster, and although the eastern province were comfortable 53-5 winners the last time they met in October, McBryde is expecting a tough battle.

"They're going to obviously be buoyed after their win against Ulster. They're returning to the home of Welsh rugby in The Knoll, which can be quite an intimidating place to go with a full house.

"I've got memories of The Knoll as being quite an intimidating venue. The crowd are right on top of the pitch, the changing room is pretty much the size of this [small] room here.

"They try and make life uncomfortable for you, and on the back of a good win against Ulster as well, they're going to turn up with a bit more belief, and they're always going to be hungry."

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Cheetahs Guinness Pro 14 Leinster Leinster Rugby Off The Ball Ospreys Pro 14 Robin McBryde Rugby Vodafone Ireland

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