Matt O’Connor discusses the importance of reintegrating players from the Six Nations back into the Leinster setup and the need for physicality and a strong start against Munster…

For Matt O’Connor, preparation for this weekend’s derby match against Munster is two-fold. First of all there is the usual work that goes into preparing for a match of the magnitude of Leinster v Munster. Add that to reintegrating several key players that have been away on international duty for a number of weeks, and the task at hand quickly doubles in size.

Since these players have returned, the focus has been on getting them ready for the sold out match in the Aviva Stadium, but O’Connor says the only measure of how successful this reintegration has been will be the outcome of the match on Saturday night. 

“It’s important to reintroduce the starting Test guys and they’ve trained very, very well. They’ve reacquainted themselves with our environment, our systems and our structures.

“The structures and the systems are important because they’ve been away for a long time through that Six Nations block. To get them in, to get training, to get them reintegrated, has been a massive focus this week and we’ll see how good a job we’ve done come Saturday night.” 

Leinster Rugby

And what better time to reintegrate these players than with a massive pair of games coming up for Leinster, with Toulon away in the Heineken Cup to come the Sunday after the match against Munster?

O’Connor believes Munster have evolved their traditional style of play in the past few years, with a greater threat throughout the team.

“They’ve probably got more threat across the field. They’re certainly playing with more width than they would’ve traditionally. They’re probably playing from their own end a little bit more than they would’ve traditionally. 

“Their Rabo form has been outstanding. They’ve had the luxury of not losing too many players to the Test environment through the international windows and you can see in their play, their combinations, their systems are pretty sound, so we’ll have our work cut out.”

Combatting that physicality and threat from Munster will be key if Leinster want to leave the Aviva with a victory and breathing space at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 table. O’Connor is looking for a strong start from his team on Saturday. 

“You’ve got to make sure that you’re very physical and very accurate. You can’t afford to leave it up to the interpretation of the referee. We have to make sure that we are there early and we are more physical than them, it’s that simple.

“We’ll be looking to play, they’ll be trying to stop us. Who does that best will probably get that result.

“We’ve got some growth to do in our game. The tough bit is getting those Test guys back and reintroduced into our systems so that it’s a little bit more automatic. Thankfully we’ve had this week to get a lot of that work done, which moving forward to the back end of the season should put us in a pretty good place.” 

Leinster v Munster in the Aviva Stadium is SOLD OUT

See Leinster A v Munster A in Donnybrook for just €;10 on April 4th. Click to get your tickets