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Never mind the Champions Cup, Leinster could win the Six Nations

Alan Quinlan believes Leinster are good enough to beat top international teams.

Defending Pro14 champions Leinster are on course for a second double in three seasons.
Defending Pro14 champions Leinster are on course for a second double in three seasons.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

ALAN QUINLAN, THE former Ireland international, has ranked Leinster alongside Super Rugby champions, Crusaders, and defending Champions Cup winners, Saracens, as the top team in club rugby. 

Unbeaten this season, Leinster have won their 14 matches by an average of 21.7 points. “They are probably the form team, certainly the most consistent side in Europe,” Quinlan said at this afternoon’s Virgin Media launch.

“But when you look at what Saracens did to Worcester last week – putting 62 points on them – you are inclined to think, ‘well, there isn’t much between them and Leinster’.

“Put Leinster up against Crusaders and that’s another tough call. Your money would be on Leinster if the game was played up here, but you’d back Crusaders if it was on in New Zealand. On neutral territory, each team at full-strength, it’d be a 50/50 shout.”

Quinlan had another hypothetical scenario to contemplate, namely to consider where Leinster were capable of finishing in the Six Nations. The former Munster flanker believes they – and also Saracens -  have the organisational ability to win it.

A strong provincial team would always have a shot at winning the Six Nations because of their cohesion,” Quinlan said.

“We’ve so often seen how long it takes teams to get up and running in the Six Nations because the prep time is so short.

“It takes time for (international) teams to gel; but for Leinster, Saracens, Clermont, that isn’t an issue.

“It is a hypothetical scenario but you’d love to see Leinster come up, say, against France. From an organisational perspective, a provincial team would be far more cohesive than an international one, more embedded in their systems.

“International coaches – even if they get a couple of weeks working with the team- don’t have time to perfect things.

“What Leinster have shown is consistency; they are among the best three sides in the world right now. And they probably have the best and deepest number of home grown players.

“Look at their resources, particularly in the back-row. Consider first they have lost Jamie Heaslip, Jordi Murphy and Sean O’Brien in recent years; now add in Jack Conan’s absence with injury.

“And then look at the guys they still have. Caelan Doris, Max Deegan at No8; Will Connors, Dan Leavy, Josh van der Flier, there’s three top-class opensides. On the blindside, Rhys Ruddock, Scott Fardy, Josh Murphy offer further evidence of quality. They are going to have a problem holding onto them all.”

caolin-blade-and-max-deegan Deegan's progress this season is indicative of Leinster's strength in depth. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

 ”They have class as well as depth. You saw the block that came through in the last World Cup cycle – Andrew Porter, James Ryan, Dan Leavy, Josh van der Flier, Jordan Larmour came through. Now there is another block who have emerged. 

“If they keep producing that type of quality every two or three years, then that’s telling you they have a quality system.

“It’s almost as if the schools environment is a sub-academy to their actual academy. Guys are exposed to top-class gyms, coaching, nutritionists from a young age. They are prepped and ready for the academies. There is huge quality there, they are the envy of the other three provinces.”

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Alan Quinlan was speaking at the launch of Virgin Media’s spring schedule. All Six Nations games will be screened on Virgin Media Sport.

***

Andy Dunne joined Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey in studio to chat about Joey Carbery, the Saracens fallout, Munster’s future, and much more. 


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