Will Connors is hoping to be back in the next few weeks as he nears the point of return following a bicep injury he sustained against the Sharks in October. The initial prognosis was 10-12 weeks but if his rehab continues in a positive vein then he “will hopefully see this side of Christmas back on the paddock”.
The Leinster and Ireland flanker has watched as his friend and rival Josh van der Flier hoover up every award, culminating in being voted World Player of the Year in Monaco recently. “It’s a testament to the work that he does off the pitch. He’s always pushing himself to work on things,” Connors says.
“Everyone jokes about ‘oh he has worked on his carrying,’ but he worked on that a lot. He got to enjoy the fruits of it (the work). He is one of the top carriers in World Rugby.
“We (the flankers) always worked together, the same with Scott Penny, we are always trying to feed off each other, trying to improve. Say Scott’s great over the ball, you are trying to work with him to develop that part of your game. You are always trying to pick the best from each player and build it into your own game.”
Connors has swapped the guidance of Denis Leamy, who left to take up a role with Munster during the summer, for Seán O’Brien who joined the Leinster back room team. So is there a difference in style? “They were both incredible players when they played. They’re very similar in their outlook on it.
“They have the technical side but also the main thing they focus on is that mindset element of it. It’s not all just about getting footwork right, which is important but there’s also that side of ‘I’m going to drive him back two metres, I’m going to make an impact here.’ The two of them really have that part of it in their mentality.
“You saw that with them as players. If you ever look at their highlight reels, that’s what they were. They were always trying to be better than the player opposite them. It’s hard to distinguish between them.”