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Eoin Reddan so impressed by Connacht he says Leinster may be underdogs in Galway

The ex-Connacht scrum-half is preparing himself for battle in the season’s first inter-pro this Friday.

Image: Inpho/Billy Stickland

EVEN IN THE new season’s first inter-pro, Leinster are far too wily of a side to be surprised or caught cold by Connacht at the Sportsground.

However, Eoin Reddan’s approach to this week is to flip conventional thought completely on its head and name the reigning Pro12 champions as underdogs for Friday night’s clash in Galway.

Connacht’s start to the season has been impressive, carving out two wins while still leaving plenty of room for improvement for the long season ahead. The western province sit third, the best of the Irish going into the third week of the season.

“This weekend’s going to be very tough,” Reddan said at Leinster’s UCD base today.

“I think for once, given the continuity Connacht have had and the results they’ve had over the last two weeks we’re probably underdogs going down there which doesn’t often happen.”

Counting up the internationals on show may give most viewers an alternative view, but Reddan doesn’t indulge in cute-hoorism. The Limerick-born scrum-half is calling the contest exactly as he sees it, an uphill struggle.

“That would definitely be the perspective given where we were six months ago,” the 33-year-old said when TheScore.ie checked that its ears had not deceived and the word underdog had in fact been applied to Leinster.

Honest assessment

“But they’ve had two very close games, they’ve had huge continuity in terms of bringing guys back. Whereas we’ve kind of dripped guys in and our guys are coming back and haven’t played as much rugby as they have.

“I’m just giving you an honest assessment of where the game is going to be this week and how tough it’s going to be.

“I think we’re up against a totally different prospect, they’re tough and well able to make good decisions which does make it a very tough game for us.”

Leinster’s new scrum coach Marco Caputo has faced Connacht as a player too. And now that he lives in the Irish rugby community he points out that Connacht use their status as ‘little brother’ to their advantage. Reddan’s words and the current league table are unlikely to change the mind of many bookmakers, but the scrum-half has himself convinced that it’s his side, and not the western province who must prove a point on Friday. And perhaps that is no bad mindset to have.

“It’s a very, very tough place to play. It’s definitely become one of the hardest places to play in the league.

“They’re a very smart team – you’d always say ‘they were tough’. And ‘they’d make it difficult for you’, but right now I think their decision-making is one of their stronger points. Last week they had good decisions on whether to kick for the corner or take points.

“Jacky Carty is well able to know when to run the ball. They’ve got guys won’t just run into contact, they’re able to pass and they’re looking for offloads and making smart decisions which makes them an entirely different prospect than other years. So I expect a very tough game.”

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Sean Farrell

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