Felipe Contepomi says Leinster must learn from indiscipline
Backs coach says Johnny Sexton is still learning how to be a captain and a leader
Leinster backs coach Felipe Contepomi says his team must learn from their indiscipline. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Felipe Contepomi understands the passion that a game between Leinster and Munster can engender having been at the epicentre in a previous incarnation as a player and how in the maelstrom of the match arena unfettered emotion can cloud the thought process leading to some rash decisions.
Indiscipline in the form of two yellow cards for Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong and James Lowe’s red card (the New Zealander faces a disciplinary hearing on Thursday) were pivotal factors in Leinster’s defeat at Thomond Park last Saturday and the Argentine acknowledged as much, accepting that lessons would have to be absorbed, collectively and individually.
He admitted: “The indiscipline was bad in terms of the yellow cards and the red card. It cost us; that’s true. We need to learn from that. We don’t have to go through the emotions of the moment. We just have to focus on playing rugby because we are a very good team when we play rugby.”
The Leinster backs’ coach was asked about the leadership issue on the pitch and specifically whether team captain Jonathan Sexton’s occasionally fractious exchanges with referees make him an ideal candidate for the role.
Contepomi explained: “It’s his (Sexton’s) first year as captain here in Leinster. He knows he’s a leader inside the team, he’s a key player; maybe he’s learning also his way of being a captain and how to deal with different situations, but I wouldn’t (put) it (all) on Johnny. I think it’s more the perception someone can have outside (the squad); someone can say “oh Johnny’ and put everything on someone’s shoulder.
“We were indisciplined, the most frustrating part for me is that indiscipline, technically, because we had the moments to win the game, and we couldn’t deal with them, well, we dealt wrongly (with them). Then, definitely Johnny has to take the learning points, the whole team has to take learning points on how to deal with when you’re taken into that moment of heat and you just have to keep you head calm.”
Contepomi is adamant that he doesn’t want to dilute the hyper competitiveness that makes Sexton such an outstanding player. He argued: “That personality made him the best player in the world as well, so you can take it or leave it, you know, and I’d rather take it.
“It’s something that he has to learn, for me, and try to control and that will make him even better, and maybe the best player next year and the following year.
“But it’s hard because we’re judging him on results, okay? And if we would have got the right technical detail and won that game, we would have said, ‘Oh how good was Johnny, he stood up’ or, ‘What a great leader’. I don’t like judging on results, I’d rather take the learning. Definitely he has things to improve on, he’s human, but it’s not about him, it’s all about the team.
“The whole team had moments where we have to improve. He wasn’t sent off. It’s not that I want to put the blame on Cian or Tadhg, we all made errors and that ill discipline harmed the whole team. But in terms of Johnny’s personality, well, that personality makes him the best player in the world.”
What irked Contepomi more at times were the technical imperfections pointing to a couple of lost lineouts, the first seven or eight metres from the Munster line at a time when Leinster trailed 16-10 and then compounding that with conceding possession again immediately from another lineout.
“It’s tough to play against 14 men, against a top quality team like Munster (in those circumstances) but we still had a chance to win the game. We need to learn (to have) a bit more composure, knowing that you are away from home.
“We have to learn also that there are key moments of the game that we need to be more precise. What really frustrates me is that in the technical part of the game that we haven’t been top notch (at crucial times).
“I am not frustrated on the cards themselves; yes it didn’t help at all and our discipline wasn’t good enough because we were stuck in something that really harmed us. The frustration comes from the technical discipline where we weren’t good enough in key moments to execute correctly.”
Leinster welcome back Irish internationals Rob Kearney and Jack McGrath for Saturday’s Pro14 game against Ulster at the RDS (5.15). Barry Daly will also be in contention for a place on the team having recovered from a knee injury.
Dave Kearney, who was a late withdrawal from the Munster match with an adductor strain, is being monitored in terms of the injury and won’t play at the weekend.
Contepomi explained: “The only one that is not available this week is Dave Kearney. Barry (Daly) is back, Jack McGrath and Rob (Kearney) they are back, in training and fit for selection.”
Rob Kearney picked up a dead leg in the Champions Cup victory over Bath at the Recreation Ground and missed the return game at the Aviva stadium. He was expected to be available for the Connacht match but having missed the two provincial derbies is expected to play in the third one.
McGrath had a minor hip procedure and missed the province’s last four matches while Daly hasn’t played since the Cardiff Blues match at the start of the season.
Lowe will face a disciplinary hearing following his sending off against Munster at Thomond Park last Saturday. The New Zealander received a straight red card for an incident that occurred in the 32nd minute of the match where referee Frank Murphy deemed the player to have committed an act of foul play against an opponent (No 14, Andrew Conway).
The referee showed the player a red card under Law 9.17 - A player must not tackle, charge, pull, push or grasp an opponent whose feet are off the ground. The player will face a Disciplinary Panel via video conference, the Panel will comprise of Roger Morris (Chair), Ray Wilton and Rhian Williams (all Wales).