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'You've got to feel for them when Conan doesn't play and they put O'Brien on'

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said Leinster’s depth makes them difficult to beat.
Jan 20th 2019, 8:00 PM 23,929 48

Murray Kinsella reports from the Ricoh Arena

MINUTES AFTER DAI Young had left the media room, having highlighted Leinster’s depth as one of the primary reasons they are so hard to beat, Leo Cullen referenced the fact that the province used 34 players across their six pool games in the Heineken Champions Cup this season.

Academy scrum-half Hugh O’Sullivan was the last of those 34, making his European debut off the bench late on in the win over Wasps, after injury to Luke McGrath opened the window for his opportunity. 

Dai Young at the post match press conference Young paid tribute to Leinster's quality. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Earlier this week, Young had suggested that Premiership clubs are struggling to compete with Leinster in the competition due to the £7 million salary cap [which excludes two marquee players] imposed on them in England.

Cullen had answered that with a reminder that Saracens have excelled in Europe, but Young hinted at the issue again just after Leinster had notched another bonus-point win against his team, citing how the late withdrawal of Ireland international Jack Conan saw British and Ireland Lion Sean O’Brien come into the starting XV.

“The quality of the players – it’s pretty simple, isn’t it?” said Young when asked what it is that makes Leinster so hard to beat. 

“You’ve got to feel sorry for them when Jack Conan unfortunately doesn’t play and they put Seanie O’Brien on. You’ve got to feel for them really.

“For this competition, we’ve seen from ourselves and other teams as well – if you lose two or three players, sometimes the teams are not quite as potent.

“When you look at Leinster, they can afford to lose four or five. They played Toulouse the other day and they had a lot of guys missing but they still had 14 internationals. I think they had five British Lions out, but they still had 14 internationals on the field.

“That type of strength in depth is going to take some beating.”


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Sean O'Brien celebrates winning O'Brien came into the starting team in place of Jack Conan. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Although Young clearly has frustrations, he also underlined the quality of this Leinster side.

“They’re a quality team, well-coached, play together a lot, a lot of experience mixed in with some real exciting youngsters,” said the Wasps boss.

“You’ve got to sit back and put your hand up and say what a quality outfit they are. They can play either way as well – I think you saw patches today where basically they can shut up shop, go to their driving lineout and close things, take things on up front.

“Or they can play a more expansive game. They’re a really quality team and a quality squad.”

Young confirmed that Wasps captain Joe Launchbury had passed an HIA during the first half of the defeat to Leinster, but did not return to the pitch due to a “stiff and sore” neck.

Flanker Brad Shields pulled out of Wasps’ starting team with a hip injury sustained in training, but Young said those issues “are nothing to worry about,” which will come as a relief to England coach Eddie Jones, who has included both players in his Six Nations squad.

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Murray Kinsella


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