Kearney glad to get winning start in 'Pool of Death'

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprise group has said any proposal to increase sick pay benefits would put significant pressure on employers.

Rob Kearney and Kevin McLaughlin have been summing up their performance and victory against Ospreys in the Heineken Cup, ahead of this weekends, round two game against Castres at the RDS.

Leinster came away from the Liberty Stadium with a 19-9 win with big performances from Jimmy Gopperth, Sean Cronin and of course Sean O’Brien.

Kearney said: "It was a big game for us. The feeling in the dressing room afterwards was relief because had we lost that, we’d have been in a difficult place especially given the games in the weeks previous against Munster and Glasgow, this week would have been a different dimension if we lost that."

With Northampton Saints, Castres and Ospreys in Leinster’s pool, the margins are paper thin and the teams that find themselves losing on the first weekend, find that they play catch-up for the remainder of the tournament.

Kearney has labelled Pool 1 ‘The pool of death’, saying: "You have such quality sides there across the board, that you like to think you’re guaranteed your home games in the Heineken and then hope you sneak some away wins or bonus points that you will be in a good place

" I think with this group you’re not guaranteed any of that."

Leinster’s experience in the Heineken Cup would mean they go into their game in the RDS this weekend as hot favourites but Kevin McLaughlin has stressed that it won’t be easy as people think.

He said: "The way we see it is that the French Champions are coming to town

"With this group we are taking it week by week and you target six wins and one team is going through in the pool, you have to win all you’re home games so we are taking nothing for granted."

The squad were given a day off yesterday from training in the RDS and the suggestion that it was due to the effort in Wales last weekend was laughed off.

MCLaughlin said: "It was more a case of necessity than anything else, there’s a lot of banged up bodies, we worked really hard at the weekend and our A’s had a game at the weekend too so there are some big bumps and bruises.

"By Tuesday we will be all guns blazing and we will get a good session in."

After returning from playing with South Africa in the Rugby Championship, Kane Krichner will be finally available for action and is fit for selection. The Springbok is very versatile and can play either full back, outside centre or on the wing.

Lote Tuqiri, who was signed on a three-month deal to cover Kirchner’s absence in the early stages of the season, is unlikely to be involved as he continues rehab from a hamstring injury.

Rob Kearney says he’s confident he will settle in well with the squad.

"He’s been pretty quiet so far, I think it’s difficult for him being part of a new team where a season s already kicked off.

"Guys here are making an effort of taking him for grub or coffee’s or showing him around, it’s up to all of us to make sure he fits in as well as possible."

Competition for places in Leinster is something that’s always mentioned and with a South African international set to provide competition for Kearney’s place, he says it’s going to be tough to stay part of Matt O’Connor’s plans.

"It’s another body there to add and hes an international means that he will be pushing really hard for a place. It’s the time when all guys are fully fit and playing well that the coach has some tricky decisions to make."

"As we move to Rabo again and then the internationals in November where there will b guys missing, I’m sure he will feature an awful lot."

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