This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 20 February, 2019
Advertisement

Leinster keen to continue attacking progress as Gibson-Park directs

Leo Cullen has called on some experienced reinforcements for the clash with Edinburgh.

LEO CULLEN’S LEINSTER will look to bounce back from last weekend’s Guinness Pro12 defeat to Glasgow when they face Edinburgh in Murrayfield this evening [KO 7.35pm, TG4].

The eastern province performed well for 50 minutes against the Warriors, but will be aiming for a more complete showing against Alan Solomons’ Edinburgh.

Attacking progress

Leinster have shown genuine glimpses of attacking growth in both of their league games so far this season, and not just through bursts of individual quality from the likes of Joey Carbery.

Jonathan Sexton Stuart Lancaster directs Leinster at training this week. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Cullen’s men have adopted more width in their phase-play attack, with back rows Dan Leavy and Josh van der Flier having been particularly prominent in the 15-metre channels in recent weeks.

Note the movement of Leinster’s back row and hooker when they build attacking pressure this evening – these four players will generally gravitate towards the wide channels in pairs in order to ensure their side can maintain width.

While not yet as fluid or natural as Connacht’s 2-4-2 shape, Leinster’s adoption of that structure is encouraging, particularly when complemented by an apparent attitude of taking risks in contact and keeping the ball alive.

Cullen’s squad is littered with intelligent players and the more comfortable they become with the shifting attacking demands, the more dangerous Leinster will be.

Gibson-Park starts

New Zealand native Jamison Gibson-Park is now part of the IRFU’s succession planning at scrum-half, meaning he’s particularly worth keeping an eye on over the coming season.

Jamie Gibson-Park Gibson-Park will start for the first time. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Fresh from winning Super Rugby with the Hurricanes, the 24-year-old brings a sharp threat around the fringes of the ruck with his sniping game, while his off-the-ball support play is of the standard one would expect from a Kiwi halfback. Despite his lack of size, the Great Barrier Island man is also excellent at identifying jackaling opportunities.

Gibson-Park possesses a fine passing range, although his penchant for firing end-over-end passes may be something his team-mates take some time to adapt to. Certainly, the slightly unorthodox technique – which Gibson-Park admittedly uses sparingly – can aid the catching process for forwards, but it can also confuse the recipient at other times.

The former Taranaki man’s maturity has been welcomed by Leinster off the pitch, and now Cullen and his staff will look for something similar on it. After Luke McGrath had the first two bites in the nine shirt this season, Gibson-Park gets his opportunity.

Experienced additions

Isa Nacewa, Jamie Heaslip, Devin Toner, Sean Cronin and Jack McGrath are all involved for the first time this season with Leinster. For many players, that fact would come with an acceptance of rustiness.

Isa Nacewa Nacewa captains Leinster on his return. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

However, these are men of vast experience and Cullen will expect them to hit their stride quicker than most of his squad. Having beaten Treviso without total conviction and then lost in Glasgow, Leinster could use a commanding victory in Murrayfield.

Edinburgh have one win in two games so far – Irish wing Mike Allen’s try helping them to last weekend’s success over the Scarlets – but this is the kind of fixture that Leinster must win if they are to feature prominently in the top four at the season’s end.

Along with that slight pressure for a strong victory, a complete 80-minute showing is what this squad will target. There are still some big names to return this season, but much of the graft will be done in these opening weeks.

Leinster:

15. Zane Kirchner
14. Isa Nacewa (captain)
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Noel Reid
11. Dave Kearney
10. Joey Carbery
9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Jack McGrath
2. Sean Cronin
3. Mike Ross
4. Devin Toner
5. Mike McCarthy
6. Jordi Murphy
7. Dan Leavy
8. Jamie Heaslip

Replacements:

16. Bryan Byrne
17. Cian Healy
18. Tadhg Furlong
19. Ross Molony
20. Josh van der Flier
21. Luke McGrath
22. Cathal Marsh
23. Rory O’Loughlin

Edinburgh:

15. Glenn Bryce
14. Michael Allen
13. Sasa Tofilau
12. Phil Burleigh
11. Tom Brown
10. Duncan Weir
9. Nathan Fowles

1. Rory Sutherland
2. Ross Ford
3. WP Nel
4. Ben Toolis
5. Grant Gilchrist (captain)
6. Magnus Bradbury
7. Hamish Watson
8. Viliami Fihaki

Replacements:

16. Stuart McInally
17. Allan Dell
18. Kevin Bryce
19. Fraser McKenzie
20. Cornell Du Preez
21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne
22. Solomoni Rasolea
23. Blair Kinghorn

Referee: David Wilkinson [IRFU].

The42 is on Snapchat! Tap the button below on your phone to add!

Ex-Leinster man Douglas dropped as Cheika shuffles Wallabies locks

‘It’s an honour to be talked about in terms of an Ireland squad’

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

Read next:

COMMENTS (11)