Arguably the most satisfying aspect of last week’s Magners League win over Munster for Leinster’s players and supporters alike was the performance of the pack, and back rower Stephen Keogh has called for more of the same against Edinburgh in the Heineken Cup.
Tomorrow night will see Leinster line out at the RDS for the first time since their Pool 6 opener last month against Leicester Tigers, whom they dismissed impressively by 22-9.
Coach Michael Cheika will be hoping his players can make the Dublin 4 ground something of a fortress over the next five weeks as they entertain Edinburgh, Ulster, the Ospreys and Toulouse between now and mid-January.
If they are to do so, Leinster must show some much-talked about consistency, particularly up front where they held the edge over Munster at a rain-soaked Musgrave Park.
Blindside flanker Stephen Keogh said: “It was very pleasing that the pack fronted up in very bad conditions (against Munster). We’ve probably improved as a pack since the start of the year.
“We did well against Leicester, had a setback against Toulouse and did well again against Munster. We need to try and make it happen every week now and that’s a big thing with us, finding consistency of performance.
“There’s a lot of pressure on us now to back it up and if we don’t, we deserve all the criticism we get.”
The industrious Keogh was pleased to get back into the thick of things on Friday after missing Leinster’s previous three games due to injury.
“It was a good win for the team. It’s always great to play in and win the Interprovincial matches.
“They are always tough games and none are tougher than going down to Munster trying to win. That’s over now though. We have the Heineken Cup this week and we are focused on playing Edinburgh,” said the 25-year-old, who is bracing himself for his first European outing since last April’s quarter-final defeat to Wasps.
Keogh is looking for a big showing from Leinster’s back row tomorrow night against an Edinburgh side that has found form in recent weeks with a brace of Magners League wins over Llanelli Scarlets and Ulster.
Commenting on Andy Robinson’s team, he said: “They like quick ball and they play the game with a lot of width although they have reverted to a bit more forward play.
“They have a very good number 7 (Ross Rennie) who we will have to target. Our back row will have to get to rucks quick.”
Meanwhile, Edinburgh coach Robinson will be disappointed by the news that Brian O’Driscoll has been passed fit to lead Leinster for tomorrow’s floodlit encounter.
O’Driscoll, who has been nursing an ankle injury since the win over Munster, is a player Robinson rates highly. The former England flanker and coach gained a lot of respect and knowledge of the Dubliner’s game during the 2001 and 2005 Lions tours.
“Brian is an inspirational and instinctive player. He’s got great vision and skills as a runner. He also scores lots of important tries and teams need that. He has become an important part of why Ireland and Leinster have been so successful,” Robinson admitted.
“He is also very competitive so he would have been very disappointed with what happened during the World Cup and how he can rectify that with Leinster.
“He will certainly pull the team together to achieve something because, while they will feel they have the potential, they have perhaps underachieved a little in Europe.”