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Sunday 5 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Ben Brady/INPHO Leinster coach Robin McBryde watches on during training yesterday.
# Mixing It Up
Robin McBryde reveals how Leinster have 'experimented' during Covid disruption
Sunday’s game against Montpellier is set to be the province’s first outing since 11 December.

YESTERDAY EVENING, LEINSTER scrum coach Robin McBryde was asked to provide an update on the status of the province’s hopes of appealing the 28-0 bonus-point win awarded to Montpellier following their cancelled Champions Cup meeting last month.

“I don’t think it’s dead and buried,” McBryde answered. 

Roughly an hour later, EPCR announced that a string of fixtures postponed in round two due to travel restriction between France and the UK were to be marked as 0-0 draws, while the decision surrounding the Montpellier-Leinster game would remain – presumably killing any lingering hopes the province had of overturning that call.

Leinster may feel aggrieved, but they won’t be surprised. They’ve had to get used to rolling with the punches recently. The province have not had a game since the 11 December win over Bath at the Aviva Stadium. They hope to end that long wait against Montpellier this weekend, but that Sunday fixture at the RDS also appears to be in the balance.

Leinster currently have just two players in isolation, but Montpellier – who had their weekend Top 14 meeting with Toulouse cancelled due to Covid – reported three additional positive cases within their squad yesterday, adding to the 17 positive cases reported last week. Watch this space.

For now, all Leinster can do is prepare as normal and hope for the best. 

“We’ve had a few false starts to be honest with you, we’ve gone down the road of preparing for these matches only for them to be pulled,” McBryde said.

“We’re well-versed in getting our preparation right, anyway.”

If all goes to plan, this weekend will finally offer a chance to channel some of the frustration of the past month into a matchday performance. 

“It’s against the opposition that that (28-0) result was given against as well, so there’s a frustration there,” McBryde continued.

“You’ve got to move on, adapt and deal with it. Everybody is having to deal with certain things, certain challenges so we’ve just got to put a positive spin on it, really.

“The number of players we haven’t had over the course of the week, it’s just focus on training, our standard of training and with all the toing and froing, our standard doesn’t drop at all.

It’s given an opportunity to some players to broaden out as well, we had Josh van der Flier throwing into the lineout today. We’re well-equipped if we get a yellow card, you always train for the worst-case scenario.

“We’ve just had to make-do with players being pulled out of training, etc, but everyone’s in the same boat.

“We’ve managed to put a positive spin on it, with the amount of time we’ve had we’ve been able to experiment or explore a little bit to try and keep things fresh really.

“With the numbers we’ve had in training this week, we’d 24 forwards today – three packs – so it’ll be great to actually get out there on the weekend and play a game.”

The disruption of the last month has also presented new challenges for the coaching group in terms of managing the squad appropriately, keeping fitness levels up and ensuring the group remain motivated without the carrot of a matchday at the end of the week.

tadhg-furlong-ronan-kelleher-and-andrew-porter Ben Brady / INPHO Tadhg Furlong, Ronan Kelleher and Andrew Porter during training on Tuesday. Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

“It’s just that cohesion. There is only so much variation you can do each other in training so when we defend against each other or attack against each other, you want to give the attack the benefit of the doubt that the defence don’t know what’s coming but when you’re working towards the same goal sometimes that’s hard.

“As much as we’ve had a little bit of variation in there, you always question when you come up against a team with a different attitude or mentality towards a certain facet, you’re scratching your head. As long as we can be in the best shape possibly we can be before kick-off on Sunday. We’re not that far away I think.

To be honest, I’d to hold them back in the session we did this afternoon because they would have gone full metal jacket against each other and it’s just a little too early in the week so we don’t want to peak too early. We want to keep things nice and cool, simmering away, and by the time Sunday comes we’ve got to be more than ready.”

Yesterday, the province also confirmed that Dan Leavy has suffered another injury setback, with the flanker set to miss two months following wrist surgery. 

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“This last one, he just landed awkwardly on his hand,” McBryde said, adding that the flanker had been selected for some of the recently postponed fixtures. “It’s frustrating because Dan is all about playing. He’s Leinster through and through.

“We saw how well he played in that (2018 Heineken Champions Cup) final before I arrived, if we can get him anywhere near that level – he was awesome on that day.

“Everybody knows the potential he’s got, it’s just giving him the opportunity to get out there and do it. 

“It’s tough. He was in this morning, he’s able to do some training, he’s not sitting idle and he’s able to start running, do a few weights and conditioning – as much as he can with the injury.

“So, I think once you’ve got goals and something to work for, that’s the big thing. To see the road back.

“Hopefully, he can see the next goal and keep on building and looking forward. It’s just the nature of being a rugby player, unfortunately.”

BTL 5

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