Cronin talks up Llanelli but not his contractual thoughts

Tue, Jan 8, 2013, 00:00

Connacht had hoped to lure Ireland’s Seán Cronin back to the Sportsground. However, reports in December that the 26-year-old was set to agree a new deal with Leinster shot down a reunion with the province where he had spent three years.

Yesterday the Leinster and Ireland hooker refused to expand on his thoughts after his contract expires at the end of the season. It’s not that he doesn’t know, more he just won’t say.

“My own future is sorted and there’ll be an announcement in the next couple of weeks,” he said. No expansion, no contractual distractions in Heineken Cup week.

Cronin may well welcome his good friend, lock Mike McCarthy, to the RDS rather than the other way around and whether that meeting will come after a Leinster Heineken Cup run that stretches beyond the early days of January will be decided on Saturday.

Cronin is not blinded by Llanelli’s poor run of form. His reference points come from an early-season meeting when the Welsh side sent Leinster home beaten dockets.

“They’re an extremely dangerous team. They’re wounded at the moment,” he said.

“They got well beaten in Ulster but if you look back at the start of the season, they gave us a right hammering over there.

Quality players

“They have quality players, there’s a list of potential Lions there. There’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded team and they’re coming over here with a lot of experienced players who can rally the group. We know they’re going to be a formidable challenge.

“They are too dangerous a side to be talking tries and getting five points. It’s about getting the win first. They can score from anywhere and make line breaks – they have very good backs like Jonathan Davies and George North, if he plays, these guys are world class – so it’s about getting momentum in the game nice and early and trying to stamp our authority.”

A hooker’s game is rarely more colourfully imaginative than marginal advantages in the set-piece, breakdown and around the field. The scrum can sometimes be chess as much as grunt or angles and while Cronin is a familiar sight whaling down a pitch making his own yards, he’s in the frontrow.

“At the weekend, we managed to pile a lot of pressure on Edinburgh by carrying a lot of ball to grind them down,” he says. “That will be something we’ll be looking to do again at the weekend. We don’t want to get involved in sevens game, throwing the ball around because they’re extremely dangerous and they’ve quality everywhere.

“It’s about sticking to what we’re good at and what we’ve focused on during the week. That’s what we’ll try to get into action this week.”

He looks at this week’s journey as pressurised but “exciting pressure”, the cup final feel bringing its own emotions, the nervous energy of the effectively knockout scenario inviting nerves. But the manifestation of the growing heat and requirements to win big against the Welsh, he feels is not a bad energy for the Leinster players. A touch of fear provides an edge to appetites and the competitive tension in the group will be no hindrance to it firing on the day.

“Things can be a small bit tetchy,” said Cronin. “That brings the best out of people. From observing this group of players, that type of thing motivates people and raises standards. So I can only see it being a good thing.”

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