Jump to main content


O’Brien Staying Positive Ahead Of Belfast Battle

O’Brien Staying Positive Ahead Of Belfast Battle

As Leinster prepare for Friday’s derby clash with Ulster, Sean O’Brien spoke about getting over the disappointment of their European Champions Cup exit and quickly switching the focus to the ‘must win’ GUINNESS PRO12 trip to Kingspan Stadium.

Sean O’Brien scored Leinster’s extra-time try during last Sunday’s Champions Cup semi-final after Bryan Habana had crossed the whitewash and Leigh Halfpenny knocked over a penalty to give Toulon a 10-point lead.

The Tullow man’s score brought the province back within five points of the defending champions, but with time running out Leinster could not find the second try that would have secured a place in the final against Clermont Auvergne.

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

“It’s pretty disappointing, obviously, being knocked out at that stage when the game’s there for the taking. It is disappointing but we just have to move on very quickly this week,” admitted O’Brien, speaking at Leinster HQ earlier today.

With just five days between fixtures, and having played 100 minutes against Toulon, the timing of the match would appear to favour Neil Doak’s Ulster side. However, O’Brien does not think it will be a factor in the game.

“I think we’re very fit at the minute. I think the game wasn’t that fast last weekend. Although we played 100 minutes I don’t think it was the most intense game we’ve ever played. The S&C (strength and conditioning) staff this week will look after us and we’ll be ready to rock on Friday.

“We’re fighting for our lives here. We have to go out and perform on Friday night to leave ourselves with a good chance in the competition. It’s the last thing we’re involved in now and something we’re going to have to go after.”

Matt O’Connor’s men will have to do that and more as they currently lie fifth overall in the PRO12 table, a full eight points behind the Ospreys (fourth) with just three rounds remaining.

An interpro victory in Belfast would close the gap on third-placed Ulster, who are ten points better than off than Leinster, and ideally the visitors would also pocket their eighth try-scoring bonus point of the league run.

But, no matter what the outcome, a hard night’s work lies ahead for O’Brien and his team-mates. The breakdown will be a vital area, as ever, with the 28-year-old singling out his Ireland colleague Chris Henry as ‘a massive threat’ up front.

“The breakdown is massive, it’s a big focus for players and Ulster throw a lot of numbers into the ruck, the likes of Chris Henry and Rory Best. They cause havoc by staying in there and we’ll be looking to get them out of there as quickly as possible.

“Chris is one of those players who will be involved in everything. He’s good around the tackle area, he stays in the middle of the ruck the whole time.

“He’s a massive threat. It’s great to see him back and it’s another option for Ireland leading into a World Cup year. I’d say Ulster are delighted to have him back too.”

O’Brien is backing the defending champions to keep fighting in the PRO12 play-off race and give supporters that have been behind Leinster all year an exciting end to the season.

“I think we know as a group and we know as an organisation what we’re about. At times this year we’ve let ourselves down as a team, but it’s the way you bounce back from those things. I think in the last couple of weeks we’ve been doing well in that aspect. We’ll keep fighting to the very end. This week is going to be a big week for the whole province,” he added.

“We’ve a full squad to pick from at the minute, which is always good. The fans out there have been very good the last few weeks. I know they’ve been disappointed with some things this season. We’ve lost games by a kick of a ball or a score, that’s just the environment we’re in. It’s not ideal for the fans but they’ll take lots of positives I hope from last week and leading into this week.”