Tyrone Howe: Leinster’s young brigade have stepped up and led from front
I feel obliged to issue an apology to the Leinster players.
When asked earlier in the season about their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages, like many others I seriously underestimated their ability to survive in such lofty company.
To be fair, their wretched form in September promised little. Ten days before the competition started, I described Leinster as undercooked. And they were! Ironically it was the interprovincial match against Munster the week before their first Pool game that finally flicked the switch.
It was the first time that Joe Schmidt managed to get his first team out on the pitch and the challenge of playing their biggest rivals snapped them out of their lethargy. Since then, the team hasn’t looked back, and it has been a real squad effort in securing qualification by Round Five.
Despite carrying injuries to Rob Kearney, Jamie Heaslip and on Saturday Gordon D’Arcy, Leinster’s young contingent have led from the front. Players like Eoin O’Malley, Fergus McFadden, Dominic Ryan, and the irrepressible Sean O’Brien have all contributed to the style of play which has marked Leinster’s progress — an inventive and daring attacking game complemented by dogged and organised defence.
So far, Leinster have sparkled and while Racing Metro on Friday night is far from easy, it would be a shame if the players were not rewarded with a home quarter-final.