Belfast Telegraph

Coach Contepomi savours Leinster's variety of attack

Big role: Felipe Contepomi has aided Leinster’s perfect start
Big role: Felipe Contepomi has aided Leinster’s perfect start

By Cian Tracey

As a player, Felipe Contepomi built his reputation on having the ability to turn a game on its head with his unpredictable nature.

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As backs coach now, Contepomi must take great pride in the role that he has played in Leinster's perfect season, in which they have scored 77 tries in their 15 wins and picked up 11 from a possible 15 bonus points.

It hasn't just been the sheer volume of tries that has pleased Contepomi, however, but more the variety of how his players have gone about scoring them.

Take last Sunday's win over Lyon as an example; Leinster crossed six times, including four from forwards and two from winger Dave Kearney.

The spreading of the load has been a common theme throughout this run, which sees the club on the verge of breaking their own record with a 16th consecutive victory against Benetton on Saturday.

Opposition teams are struggling to cope with their firepower simply because Leo Cullen's men have the weapons to cause damage all over the pitch.

Players are encouraged to play heads-up rugby, which was best typified by Ross Byrne not thinking twice to cross-kick a quick penalty to create a try on the opposite touchline last weekend.

"Definitely, it's great to have a team with that mentality to go out and play like that," Contepomi said. "Also, if we analyse the tries, we have a big variety; it's not just backs scoring or forwards scoring, it's a big variety, and that's where we want to get.

"If we need to score five tries from a maul, we'll try to score them. If we have to score by counter or flowing rugby, we'll do it as well.

"That's what we want to be - an unpredictable team, in terms of how you play against us.

"But for me, it's not only about rugby and scoring tries, it's about not conceding tries.

"As much as Leinster see that part, it's the nice part of the statistics to see how many tries we score, for me we get most of our energy from our defence.

"The defence is what allows us to get the ball and have the ball and then to be able to score. It's important what we do without the ball and getting it back."

Stuart Lancaster's 'comfortable in chaos' theory has garnered plenty of plaudits, and one wonders how much a player with Contepomi's talent and flair would have thrived in this current team.

"I've been lucky enough in the sides I've been involved in," he reflected. "I would love to play (in this team). Leinster still have the same mentality as when I was here.

"The Leinster philosophy, the 'way' of understanding rugby, is the one that pleases me. I'm not saying it's the right way, it's the one that pleases me.

"When you see it now, I don't think of being able to play in this team - I'm thinking it's a great joy to watch them play.

"If you train that way and it's replicated on game day, it's the best thing you can aspire to."

Ross Byrne looks likely to continue in the absence of Johnny Sexton in Treviso this weekend, but his younger brother Harry and Ciaran Frawley are also pushing for game time.

"The four play better than I used to play," Contepomi smiled. "They all have their strengths and need to understand to play to their strengths without compromising our system."

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