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Dublin: 0 °C Sunday 18 March, 2018

O'Connor wants 80-minute display as disjointed Leinster prepare for Munster

The Australian head coach has been encouraged by the form of Rhys Ruddock early this season.

Leinster have fired intermittently so far this season.
Leinster have fired intermittently so far this season.
Image: Inpho/Billy Stickland

MATT O’CONNOR SAYS he is pleased with certain elements of Leinster’s form this season, but feels the province must look to produce an 80-minute display against Munster at the Aviva Stadium next weekend.

Leinster prepared for the derby clash with a bonus-point 37-23 victory over the Cardiff Blues on Friday evening, winning after a performance that featured passages of attacking quality, as well as stints where the province utterly lost focus.

A 50 per cent win rate in the Guinness Pro12 so far just about sums up Leinster’s form. O’Connor believes there are real positives; his side now needs to produce the those aspects for longer periods.

“I think there’s been a lot of very, very good things. I think we need to make sure that we’re working that little bit harder to put in an 80-minute performance,” said O’Connor after the win over Cardiff.

We’ve sort of stopped and started, it’s been a little bit disjointed for a number of reasons. It’s becoming pretty important that we put in an 80-minute performance.”

This inter-provincial meeting with Munster may have the effect of sparking Leinster towards their peak, with O’Connor feeling that the importance of the tie will ensure a more heated atmosphere on the training paddock at least.

“The reality of it is that you have to be ready for it,” said O’Connor. “Whether you’re ready for it, think that you’re ready for it or not ready for it, it’s happening.

“You’ve got to make sure that you’re up for it, so I think there’ll be an edge to what happens at UCD during the week. It’s massive bragging rights and we need to make sure that we’re a little bit better than we were tonight.”

Leinster’s Rhys Ruddock Rhys Ruddock's excellent start to the campaign has encouraged O'Connor. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Tries for Rhys Ruddock, Gordon D’Arcy, Mick McGrath and Luke McGrath all came on the end of impressive attacking play from Leinster at the RDS on Friday night, one of the reasons for O’Connor’s positivity.

The promising form of Clontarf man Mick McGrath has been enjoyable for Ulster Bank League fans who have watched the wing scorching in tries on the club scene in recent years. O’Connor is unsurprised by McGrath’s impact in the Pro12.

I don’t know how much AIL you guys have seen, but he’s been very, very dynamic in that,” outlined O’Connor. “He knows his way to the tryline and he’s a great finisher. He’s been very, very good for us and he will have to be moving forward.”

The Australian was pleased by the debut of “world-class lock” Kane Douglas on Friday evening, while he was even more enthused by a second consecutive standout performance by back row Rhys Ruddock.

The 23-year-old showed his extraordinary athleticism for a first-half try, running an intelligent line off Jimmy Gopperth before handing off Lewis Jones as he galloped to the corner.

“He’s only two weeks back into the programme,” said O’Connor, “but I thought that the impact Rhys gave us at stages, a couple of massive carries and his work rate around the place, was outstanding.”

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