O’Connor draws the positives from inexperienced side’s fightback
‘The Heineken pool is going to be very tight with very small margins,’ says coach
Leinster’s Isaac Boss tackled by Tom Smith of Ospreys. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
With their opening Heineken Cup rendezvous four weeks’ hence in mind, the Ospreys arguably extracted more psychologically from earning an away draw after being behind for most of the night. However, with so many frontline internationals absent, Matt O’Connor scoffed at that suggestion.
“I think we should be able to quash that by bringing back 14 blokes,” he noted, although that said the Leinster coach admitted there were lessons to be learned from the first of four clashes this season.
“They’ll take two points from it but beyond that each contest is its own contest. The Heineken pool is going to be very tight with very small margins. There are some lessons there for us: you can’t go to sleep you can’t give teams bonus points are you don’t get out of the group. That’s reality.”
Aside from their missing Lions and Ireland players, Luke Fitzgerald’s groin strain was not risked while the coach revealed that Leo Cullen had surgery on an Achilles’ tendon in Sweden last week and will be absent for another four weeks.
While O’Connor echoed the home dressing-room as regarding this as two points dropped, there were plenty of positives, not lest the “fantastic” intent with which they began the game. “But we need to make sure we bring that for 80 minutes and we don’t fall asleep for patches and give the opposition foothold in the game.”
He also praised his team’s “desire and attitude” when seven points down and Seán Cronin’s yellow card, although O’Connor was evidently frustrated by Leighton Hodges’ interpretations of the breakdown and at scrum time. Asked if he had ever seen a hooker sin-binned five metres from the opposition try line, O’Connor smiled. “No, that’s a first and hopefully I don’t see it again.”
Meanwhile, Leinster chief executive Mick Dawson has clarified that he and his province support the concept of the Heineken Cup under the auspices of the ERC although, failing that, should a mooted new European/cross-border tournament come to pass, the provinces should be a part of it.
“We want the Heineken Cup to be saved and run by the ERC – definitely. My preference is that something is sorted out,” said Dawson, although if the Heineken Cup falls by the wayside and a new competition is sanctioned then all options should be considered.
“Whatever is going on, we want to be in it,” said Dawson. “We would be supporting the IRFU but at the end of the day if battles or wars are lost we have to see where we go from here. We want to be where the action is.”