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O’Connor: We’ll Have To Be Very Good Across The Board

O’Connor: We’ll Have To Be Very Good Across The Board

Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor has warned his players that they will have to deliver ‘across the board’ if they are to defeat Glasgow Warriors and retain the RaboDirect PRO12 title on Saturday.

This season’s RaboDirect PRO12 final will be contested appropriately by the two teams who finished top of the pile after the 22-round campaign – reigning champions Leinster and second-placed Glasgow Warriors, making their first appearance in the final.

Glasgow held off a late comeback from Munster at Scotstoun Stadium to secure their place in the decider by the narrowest of margins in a 16-15 victory.

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Meanwhile, Leinster deposed of last season’s beaten finalists Ulster in a tense game at the RDS, the hosts only taking the lead in the 72nd minute of the game.

It took Leinster four attempts to secure the league title via the play-off format and they are now bidding to become the first team to retain it.

The province’s head coach Matt O’Connor can be pleased with results this season, but for him the growth of the squad is what matters most.

“I think there’s been a fair bit of growth across the group in relation to a different approach and grafting out wins and being a lot harder to beat,” explained the Australian, who took over from Joe Schmidt last summer.

“There have been a lot of standout individuals who have stuck their hand up and have certainly pushed to start for us, have pushed the national side a little bit harder.

“We’ve got probably a broader group, which is really important given we’ll be losing some experience over the next 12-18 months, two years. There are a lot of positives.

“A lot of things will be gauged off what will happen off the back of Saturday. We will certainly be better for the journey.”

Throughout the season there has been much upheaval in the Leinster squad. Players have been away on international duty and there have been long-term injuries to the likes of Sean O’Brien to deal with.

With all of that in mind, O’Connor is already looking ahead to pre-season and the important role that will play as Leinster prepare for the 2014/15 campaign.

“The turnover of players we have week-to-week makes it very, very difficult to nail down any changes consistently. From that end, the pre-season will be very important for us, how we build into the start of next season where the systems are similar.

“There will be tweaks and there will be adjustments along the way, obviously, but it will be the same terminology, it’ll be the same players. So from that end, we’ll be able to grow most of those structures in a really positive way, hopefully.”

Before next season can be seriously considered, however, there is the small matter of the end of the current one.

Glasgow await Leinster at the RDS on Saturday evening (kick-off 7.15pm) and O’Connor is quick to acknowledge the good run of results the Scottish side have had in the second half of the season.

“They’ve been on a really good roll. I think I said after the Ulster game that they have been the best side in the league post-Christmas, without a doubt,” he admitted.

“We’ve got to make sure that we stop that momentum and we deliver on the things that make us good and nullify their strengths. We’re going to have to be very good across the board to contain and exert our pressure at key moments.”