THE FEELING WITHIN the Leinster group all season has been that the attacking performance they know they are capable of is within touching distance.
An accurate pass here, an aggressive rucking contribution there, a slightly more understanding support line; get those details right and the flow will follow.
Despite many outside their circle increasingly losing faith, the coaches and players remain positive about their prospects of clicking into top form. The evidence on the pitch might suggest that those thoughts are misguided, but Leinster plow on in search of their attacking zenith.
“The accuracy probably hasn’t been there,” admits kicking and skills coach Richie Murphy. “The ball carrier needs to work that little bit harder when he has the ball, our cleanout has to be accurate.
“It’s amazing if you can be 1% or 2% better there, these guys can be 2% better somewhere else, all of a sudden the ball is a little bit quicker and the opportunities will present themselves a lot easier.
Back row Kevin McLaughlin has stated his belief that Leinster have been forcing passes at times in attack, “getting over-excited and trying to force it a little bit.” The 30-year-old admits those errors have “an impact on confidence when you’re on the pitch.”
Other players have expressed similar sentiments around Leinster’s stuttering form too, underlining that once those passes start to stick, there will be notable improvements in terms of breaking the opposition down.
Murphy [left] and O’Connor want their players to make better decisions on the pitch. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
That said, Leinster’s coaching staff were disappointed by ignored opportunities against Munster, when chances to move the ball into potentially advantageous wide channels were spurned in favour of lower-risk inside passes or switch plays.
For skills guru Murphy, the key for Leinster is making the ideal decisions in attack.
“Some people say they’re forcing the pass, then there’s other opportunities when we actually can pass and we don’t. So it’s about making the right decisions really.
“We’ve a certain way that we try to play, especially when we’re getting into the opposition’s 22, but we just need to focus on exactly what their role is. You need to earn the right to actually move the ball into those areas.
“We’ll be focusing back to the process of what we’re actually trying to achieve in those areas, it’ll be up to the players then to try and focus on that, rather than not passing or throwing the pass and turning over the ball.”
Mention of the players themselves is apt there, from a Leinster point of view especially. Luke Fitzgerald yesterday said he and his teammates owe head coach Matt O’Connor a performance, a notion McLaughlin also expressed last week.
Much has been made of how Leinster’s style of play has altered in the last two seasons under the Australian’s rule, but Murphy stresses that there really hasn’t been too much difference to what has gone before in terms of philosophy and approach.