Boss keeps his fingers crossed for Scarlets' test
After gate-crashing the Leinster As, the Leinster scrumhalf is desperate for pitch time against the Scarlets, writes JOHNNY WATTERSON
ISAAC BOSS smiles when the old chestnut arises. The away the scrumhalf has been under-used in recent weeks because of an arm injury but the idea that his knockabout style, compared to the lithe up-tempo contributions of Eoin Reddan, makes the testy away games more up his street, is a bit of a yawn for him.
“Well, I’ve heard that a few times,” Boss says about the home-and-away roles between the two. “But I just want to be on the pitch. As long as I can get involved. John Cooney has been playing very well as well and he definitely warrants selection so it’s going to be tight and fingers crossed I can get the nod in there somewhere.”
Cooney has started more often than Boss this season and lined out in Leinster’s first match against Newport before playing two in a row against Edinburgh and the doomed match against Connacht. Boss has started just one match, Leinster’s first of the season against Scarlets away, which they lost 45-20. Lesson learned?
“There are a lot of young (Scarlets) guys who are really keen at the moment and they had a bit of momentum that day,” says Boss. “If you give them that momentum and they run with it . . . you can’t give them a sniff from the start. You’ve got to try and keep the ball away from them . . . they have some real match-winners in the squad so fingers crossed we can contain them.”
The former Irish scrumhalf is desperate for pitch time and last Saturday had to muscle his way onto the pitch in Leinster’s A match in order to squeeze some game-time into his preparation. Cooney’s name is out there but it will be hard to look beyond the experience of Boss and Reddan for the trip back to Parc Y Scarlets.
His right arm is still strapped since he damaged the medial ligament fielding a high ball, but gate-crashing the A game was a signal to Joe Schmidt of his health as much as a determination to get playing. “It was strange I was just going for a ball in the air, so it was a weird one,” he says of the injury. “A few of lads, especially myself, felt we needed a bit of game-time. We didn’t get on [against Exeter], so we just asked for the opportunity and [Joe] said if Colin McEntee was keen to have us.
“There were guys already in those positions and it’s hard on those young fellas, who want their chance. But I was just happy to get out there for a bit of game-time. The players were keen to have a run and put ourselves forward and try and get in the best position possible.”
Boss signed for Leinster from Ulster in the summer of 2010 and made 29 appearances in his first season before coming off the bench to see his side home in the closing stages of the Heineken Cup final win over Northampton at the Millennium Stadium.
He shared the scrumhalf duties in equal measure with Reddan in 2011-12 but missed out on the Heineken Cup final at Twickenham after picking up a quad injury.
This season he has been able to watch more and his recital of the Leinster mantra about what is not quite right is on message even if the players’ performances are not.
“Just probably our intensity as individuals,” he says needs fixing. “Maybe one or two decisions going through, sometimes we’re not giving the pass, not holding on to the ball, little things that were going right for us at other times. It’s a very fine line, if we can get a couple of those going our way then momentum shifts
“It’s been a mixed bag, some good performances and some poor ones. We have to look after our own shop and then collectively it comes together as a team. We’ve let a couple of chances slip last weekend.
“We didn’t play that great but we got away with the win. We held them to no tries, which is a big feat considering they’ve been playing really well.
“But we’ve got to step it up this week, especially in attack.”
Once the pride of Europe in that area, two pool wins from two regardless of how ugly would be a mini crisis averted for the reigning champions.