Easterby: No-one is pretending that we are playing well

Leinster may have lost just once in their last eight outings, but the quality of their performances continue to drive the conversation as the province turns away from Europe and into a hat-trick of domestic interpros in the Guinness PRO12.

Easterby: No-one is pretending that we are playing well

Connacht come to town next Friday and rarely, if ever, will they have run out at the RDS in such fine fettle, having defeated Bayonne on the road at the weekend in the Challenge Cup and with what was virtually a second string.

Leinster, by contrast, squeaked past Harlequins in the Champions Cup, but they only exacerbated the impression that they are a side in danger of foundering and all the more so with confirmation that Rhys Ruddock fractured an arm and is out for six weeks.

Brian O’Driscoll suggested on TV at the weekend that the capital side’s recent hauls of silverware have made a rod for their own backs in that the province’s supporters had become spoiled by such success.

“Spoiled? They’ve had a good time of it, absolutely,” said team manager Guy Easterby. “But we are still managing to win games, which is vital. No-one is pretending that we are playing well. We understand that we have improvements to make in our performance.”

Leinster are hopeful of having hooker Richardt Strauss, flanker Shane Jennings, wing Dave Kearney and centre Gordon D’Arcy back in the reckoning this week. Wing/centre Fergus McFadden looks a better bet for the week after when they travel to Limerick.

Connacht wing Fionn Carr is going through back-to-play protocols, having been taken off with a knock to the head and after receiving eight stitches in France, while lock Mick Kearney is out for up to a month after suffering a high ankle sprain.

Flanker/lock Andrew Browne is also out of the reckoning as he continues to rehab a knee injury although scrum-half Ian Porter and prop JP Cooney have returned to training and are available to coach Pat Lam again.

Leinster expect to find out from the IRFU at some stage as to when and where they can use their Irish internationals over the festive period, which they round off with a visit to the RDS of Ulster on January 3.

The province has been badly hit by injuries this campaign and, though Leinster, Munster and Ulster have all had their issues in Europe of late, there are seemingly no plans to add to the former’s stable with a big-name foreign player before next season.

Jimmy Gopperth is set to return to the Aviva Premiership what with Jonathan Sexton returning, which leaves only three non-Irish qualified (NIQ) players — Zane Kirchner, Kane Douglas and Ben Te’o – as opposed to the four they possess right now.

“We’re only allowed a certain amount of non-Irish eligible players,” said Easterby who said Leinster will look to extend Kirchner’s stay beyond the summer. “It’s four next year, including special projects. We already know three in terms of players we have here.”

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