Jennings ready to turn the bad into good
“And then on a personal side, players have to take responsibility and not let this happen because as much as Joe feels under pressure, the players are under pressure because no-one wants to do well as much as players.
“But the reaction’s been good since the weekend and it’s going to be a good game because Munster are looking for the same performance as well. It’s going to make for a good game.”
Jennings rolled his ankle in the game against Connacht but trained fully on Tuesday with no reaction. He’s available for selection against a team he has seen change dramatically over the years, not least of all in the backrow position where Anthony Foley, David Wallace and Alan Quinlan were imposing Mount Rushmore figures that seemed to have been there for ever. The new faces may not carry the same freight or package of international caps but nor are they rookies likely to buckle in the Aviva.
“Like any backrow in a strong set-up like Munster or Leicester or Wasps over the years, there was always six or seven good backrows who were playing,” says Jennings. “I played with James (Coughlan) at schools level and I always knew how good he was when we played with or against each other at under-21s, schools or 19s.
“It’s the same with us at Leinster. We have six or seven talented backrow players but that process just happens. For years guys like Denis (Leamy) and Wally (David Wallace) and Quinny (Alan Quinlan) and Anthony Foley had their positions pretty solid but it is these new guys’ opportunity. Guys like Niall (Ronan) who was up at Leinster. We know how good he is.
“They have evolved into a good backrow but they still play the same that the likes of Leams and those guys did years ago. They are confrontational and physical at the breakdown and have a very good skill level as well, whether it is in the line or out in the loose. It’s a good challenge for us.”
The guts of a month and a half into the season and the mini-crisis will have Schmidt in anxiety mode and the players lacking certainty in their performances. But in an odd way the Munster threat may drive a performance from the home team. If not, well, it might not be pretty in the Aviva.