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O'Loughlin out to show he can fill the Leinster void

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In the groove: Rory O’Loughlin is glad to be getting a run of games

In the groove: Rory O’Loughlin is glad to be getting a run of games

�INPHO/Robbie Stephenson

In the groove: Rory O’Loughlin is glad to be getting a run of games

For most other teams, it would be a full-blown crisis but the strength of Leinster's squad means they can go into the biggest game of the season without a slew of important players and nobody bats an eye-lid.

Within the squad, they're just getting on with it. The coaches have barely mentioned it. It's not being seen as a factor in the province's bid to dethrone Exeter.

Officially, Leinster have 13 players out injured. Three of them - Garry Ringrose, James Ryan and Caelan Doris - are nailed-on starters, a couple of others - like Will Connors, Jamison Gibson-Park (who hasn't been fully ruled out), Max Deegan and Dan Leavy - would be in the 23 and there are pinch-points in the centre and the back-row where Leo Cullen and co are probably one injury away from a real problem.

Ringrose will certainly be missed, but for the next man in this is an opportunity and Rory O'Loughlin is ready to step up.

"I had a bad run of injuries in the last two seasons and to be able to play seven games in a row now, it's been a while since I've had that, and now being fit going into these games and with Garry being unlucky in picking up that injury, it has given me an opportunity to play in big knockout games and they're the games that you want to play in," he said.

"They're the games that define careers and get you into the big moments and enjoyable days."

O'Loughlin got an up close view of them when the sides met in the 2018 tournament and is impressed by the English side.

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"I was 24th man for those two games, they stick in the memory as the intensity of European rugby and how it really took 80 minutes in both games to get the victory," he said.

"(Against Lyon) they showed why they are European champions and English champions with how controlled they are in attack, especially when they got into the opposition 22.

"You really can't give them those opportunities. For us, discipline is going to be crucial."

Belfast Telegraph


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