Nathan Hines gets to grips with a Leinster maul. ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
bully boy

Leinster have been bullied in their last 3 games - Keith Wood

The former Ireland and Munster captain believes the European champions are lost without Brian O’Driscoll.

THE FEELING THAT Leinster [circa 2007-2012] always pull out big performances when they need to is providing a morsel of comfort for their supporters.

Bonus point wins are needed over Scarlets and Exeter Chiefs to climb out of the Heineken Cup pool stages and Brian O’Driscoll is back, training and targeting the fixtures.

With Dave Kearney returning to the fold and Luke Fitzgerald and Eoin O’Malley achingly close to returns, there is reason to hope.

The 27-19 loss to Ulster on Friday night, however, is further evidence that the team is lacking some grunt and divilment in its pack.

Former Ireland captain Keith Wood is not convinced that Joe Schmidt’s side can continue their trophy-winning ways this season.

“[Leinster] have had three weeks when they’ve been bullied, to be honest,” Wood told Newstalk.

Nathan Hines and Julien Bonnaire were two of the Clermont Auvergne players to boss affairs in December’s double-header and Wood feels Leinster are missing the presence of Hines, who left the province in 2011, or former All Black lock Brad Thorn.

“What Thorn brought to [the pack] was his huge physicality and the fundamentals of a guy who will carry the ball.”

Not far from the ropes

O’Driscoll trained with his Leinster teammates at their Rosemount facilities in UCD this week but he will certainly miss the visit of Connacht to Dublin next Saturday.

Wood added, “They are missing O’Driscoll incredibly.

Any time there was a lull in the last three or four years, there was a guy who would carry the mantle.”

Leinster are 16 points adrift of Ulster but just one point out of the Pro12 top four.

Wood said, “They are on the ropes but not really.

“They are in the upper reaches of the Rabo and have a chance of getting into the Heineken Cup quarter finals.”

Connacht’s Mike McCarthy will play against Leinster on 29 December. Schmidt has already upset the westerners so there is no harm in asking Connacht CEO Tom Sears if they can release the big lock earlier than expected.

They could certainly do with his battling qualities.

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