Belfast Telegraph

Malony believes he can lead the way for Leinster


Real ambition: Ross Malony is determined to prove himself
Real ambition: Ross Malony is determined to prove himself

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Same room, similar questions. Ross Molony knows the territory well at this stage.

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These are the weeks when he is asked to step in and perform, to lead the less experienced Leinster lights who are contributing to what is shaping up to be an historic season for the province.

When the internationals return from their Christmas travels, Molony is one of those who will step out of the team and watch on ready to come back in during the Six Nations and do it all over again.

At the end of each contract, the 25-year-old is presented with a dilemma. Stay in the most successful operation in Irish rugby and play his part or force himself out of his comfort zone by leaving in search of first-team action.

So far, he has resisted the urge to go, but that doesn't mean he's satisfied with his watching brief on the biggest days.

The only way to press his claim is by performing in these windows and, having stepped in with a big impact off the bench at Thomond Park, he's likely to play a central role against Connacht on Saturday.

The big moments he enjoyed against Munster only reinforce his belief in his ability to cut it.

"Yeah, they do. I always believe that I'm good enough to play in the first team," he said.

"Moments like that help, the enjoyment of playing the game and getting the big wins.

"We've had a few this season, like Glasgow away and Connacht away.

"It is just those big wins that drive the squad and individuals as well. I want to be in the team, winning in the team. It is going really well at the moment. It is a driving factor to put your hand up for selection.

"You want to be playing in the European games, in the big matches. Everyone in this squad is going to get their chance.

"Some games are seemingly bigger than others, but we are all working towards that goal of winning, putting ourselves into the knockout stages and, ultimately, winning trophies."

Unbeaten in 13 matches, there is already talk that the defending Guinness PRO14 champions could go the entire season without losing a single game.

Every week they win again, their scalp becomes more of a prize, and Connacht are next up to have a go at the RDS Arena.

"We talk about this ourselves. We've put that marker on our own heads," Molony said.

"Any team that plays us, they are going to come out with their best performance of the season just so they can take their best shot at Leinster, try and turn over Leinster who are PRO14 champions or whatever it is.

"That's the kind of attitude that Connacht will come with. Being an interpro around Christmas, that adds to the excitement itself.

"Everyone is going to want to take a chip at us so they are going to come with that mindset."

Meanwhile, Quinn Roux's hopes of returning to the Irish side for the start of the Six Nations have been dashed with the 29-year-old having to undergo surgery for a hand injury.

The lock forward, who won the last of his 12 caps against Wales last March, had aspirations of making it to the World Cup having also played against Italy, Scotland and England in the Six Nations, but didn't make the cut.

Connacht coach Andy Friend said the manner in which Roux channelled his disappointment into big displays for the province was an example to follow and he was thrilled when the South African was called into Andy Farrell's first Irish get-together.

However, Roux suffered a hand injury on his 100th appearance for Connacht against Munster and surgery has been required, ruling him out of a return to training until February.

Belfast Telegraph


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