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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019
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O'Connor excited by playmaking potential of Leinster centre Noel Reid

The 23-year-old delivered an excellent attacking display in the nine-try hammering of Treviso yesterday.

Reid scores one of his brace of tries versus Treviso.
Reid scores one of his brace of tries versus Treviso.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

WHILE THE PLAYER himself would acknowledge that he still has improvements to make and skills to add to his bow, Noel Reid’s progress has been a real positive for Leinster this season.

The centre is something of a New-Zealand style second-five-eighth, offering a playmaking influence through his distribution in the 12 shirt. Against a very poor Treviso team yesterday evening at the RDS, Reid offered up on of his best Leinster showings.

Crisp passing off both hands and over respectable distances, neat footwork and bursts of acceleration for half-breaks before offloading; there was much to enjoy in the 23-year-old’s individual display.

Speaking after the 62-7 rout of the Italian side, head coach Matt O’Connor spoke of the former St. Michael’s student as a player of growing importance to the province.

He’s played very well for us across the course of the season. I think I said it during the week that a lot of the things that we did as a team in the Six Nations block was in and around Noel’s ability to distribute and open up the field, get the ball into those wider spaces where defenders are vulnerable.

“I think his decision-making [against Treviso] and, again, his distribution were first class.”

The key for any creative centre is to have variation in their game, the ability to surprise defenders. O’Connor is pleased that Reid is showing clear signs of developing that trait.

Noel Reid Source: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

“He’s very deceptive with the ball in his hands. He throws such lovely passes that it keeps the defence in two minds. He had a couple of opportunities to create outside him, and Drico is always going to commit defenders, so it was a good combination.”

Doing the business against a weak Treviso side is one thing, but tougher tests await for Reid in the coming year or so. The centre has yet to appear in the Heineken Cup for the province.

Reid played much of his underage rugby at out-half, but is now settled one position further out the backline. O’Connor believes the Emerging Ireland cap has a big part to play for Leinster in the future.

“He’s a lot more comfortable at 12; he much prefers to be at 12. He probably doesn’t kick the ball and communicate quite as well as he’d like as an out-and-out first choice 10. He’s played brilliantly for us this year and he’ll be involved moving forward for sure.”

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Nine-try rout of Treviso gets O’Connor’s Leinster back to winning ways

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Murray Kinsella

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