BY THE TIME Jono Gibbes strode out to greet the assembled media in UCD on Monday he had re-watched (possibly from behind his hands) the horror-show of the European champions’ 45-20 mauling by Llanelli Scarlets.
Following a quick summary of the issues he had, no doubt, already discussed forthrightly and at length with the squad, he concluded with an intake of breath and the words:
“Yeah, we move on.”
For Leinster are not in the business of dwelling on a defeat. Mistakes, yes. A drop in standards, yes. But Gibbes and Joe Schmidt will dwell no longer on a defeat than they do on victory.
You sense the riot act has been read to the players who failed to match up to the eastern province’s high standards. Gibbes laughs away the suggestion that the thrashing can be spun as a wake-up call.
“As opposed to the 43-0 in Northampton?” The former All Black exclaimed with incredulity, his toothy smile on full show; his shoulders rising and falling with an inner chuckle.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure that was the reality check. I think this week was disappointing as it was a competition game and we just weren’t up to the mark really.
The mark in Parc y Scarlets was set by the hosts and their contingent of internationals who either started or were sprung from the bench to ensure salt would be massaged thoroughly into the wound. Gibbes admits that experience was a factor in the result, but even the experienced heads such as Shane Jennings, Richardt Strauss and Damian Browne will be disappointed with their displays.
“I think we lacked a bit of physical presence on Saturday night an we were a bit naive in the collision area and the breakdown in particular. So, a bit more experience in those kinds of aspects would have been better for us.”
With Isaac Boss added to the list of injuries and internationals reined in under the player welfare program, the province’s personnel won’t change too much for the visit of the Dragons to the RDS. John Cooney, 22, will be promoted to the number nine shirt and Luke McGrath,19, will come in as cover. There is also likely to be a change in the names for the second row.
A recovering Sean O’Brien (©INPHO/Cathal Noonan)
Leo Cullen did not travel to Wales because his ‘workload is being managed’, according to Gibbes. As for new signing Quinn Roux, the forwards coach is not alone in using “physical” as the first word that comes to mind when describing him.
“He’s settling into the environment well.” Gibbes says of the young South African. “He’s got some physical attributes that I think will have a real positive effect for Leinster. But the challenge for him is just to fit in and understand how we play – get used to the guys he’s going to be working alongside and that’s what this process has been in the last few weeks.
“Hopefully, in the near future, the supporters will get to see what he brings.”
He moves on.