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O'Connor praises Leinster 'winning mentality' as he looks forward to new challenge

He has also admitted they weren’t “overly concerned” with last week’s loss to Ulster.

Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor speaks to the media.
Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor speaks to the media.

NEW LEINSTER COACH Matt O’Connor has highlighted a “winning mentality” as one of the side’s biggest strengths, as he grows accustomed to life as their new boss.

“It was probably the biggest characteristic coaching against them,” he explains. “Being willing to make the sacrifices for their mates is one of the really positive things about this group.

“You have to make sure that the boys get their attitude right every week and the strength of Leinster in the last four or five years has been that every day, every game they aim up. And this season will be no different.”

In relation to last week’s narrow 21-19 loss to Ulster, O’Connor admits they weren’t “overly concerned” with the result, but he insists improvements can be made.

“We’ve spoken this week about making improvements that we weren’t happy with on Friday night to get us a better outcome hopefully,” he says.

“It was a pretty high standard from both sides and we were happy with what we saw. It was a pretty inexperienced group, so there were a lot of positives.

“It’s about assessing the talent – working out the strengths and weaknesses of the group and making sure that we keep all the things that made the group successful and adjust the little things that need improvement.

“The group and the backroom staff have been fantastic collectively in adopting anything they perceive to be an improvement.”

Looking ahead to their upcoming game, he added: “Northampton presents another opportunity [for the young players] – we’re in their group for Heineken so it’ll be a cagey affair, I imagine. We’ll be looking for guys to make some steps forward.”

And despite the change of environment, O’Connor claims there aren’t too many differences between the way Leinster and his previous team, Leicester, are run.

“I was lucky to be at Leicester for five years and they’ve got an excellent set-up, so to be fair, there’s a lot more similarities than differences.

“It’s just been a matter of having a look and seeing how the place operates – in relation to backroom team and training squad, there hasn’t been too many changes at all, so there’s a comfortable feeling in the fact that people know what is required to be good and to win things.”

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