Risk and Reward for Leinster in South Africa.
And perhaps some danger from jealous rivals jostling like herds for crucial playoff spots as Leo Cullen’s roster raised eyebrows for their fortnight trip south.
Eyebrows would have been furrowed even more as his team was unfurled for today’s trip to rain-soaked Durban, a city in tragic turmoil following recent severe weather.
There will be the predictable sniper from others that Leinster will lessen the competition by unveiling a largely second-tier combination for these two weeks in South Africa.
On the other hand, Cullen’s strong argument is that these players deserve the right to take a breather as Leinster before the season ends in business.
Had any of the teams that underperformed similarly underperforming teams during the six-nation window done better in their efforts, perhaps their arguments would be sustainable.
However, as is now the norm, Leinster’s tremendous strength at depth ensured they came through the phase with such a healthy advantage that the risk to their reputation was minimal.
And the rewards for some players could be substantial, most notably Academy pairing Brian Deeny and John McKee, who will make their provincial debuts.
Versatile striker Deeny started his rugby journey with Wexford Wanderers and also played for Ireland Under-20 side. A native of Belfast, McKee was captain of Ireland as a minor.
Others, like Harry Byrne, Scott Penny, and Max Deegan, will happily make a convincing case that they can be relied on in bigger brawls.
Sharks – Ein Fassi; Kok W, Tapuai B, Louw M, Mapimpi M; C Bosch, J Hendrikse; O Niche, B Mbonambi, T du Toit capt, L Roets, G Grobler, S Kolisi, H Venter, P Buthelezi. Representatives: K van Vuuren, N Mchunu, K Mchunu, R Hugo, J Labuschagne, S Notshe, G Williams, B Chamberlain.
Leinster-C Cosgrave; T O’Brien, J Osborne, C Frawley, R O’Loughlin; H Byrne, N McCarthy; A Porter, R Kelleher, T Clarkson, B Deeny, J Dunne, R Ruddock Capt, S Penny, M Deegan. Representatives: J McKee, P Dooley, M Ala’alatoa, J Murphy, A Soroka, C Foley, D Hawkshaw, M Moloney.
Ref – N Amashukeli (GRU).
Sharks v Leinster, Kingspark Stadium, 5:15 p.m., TG4 & Premier Sports 1
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/pro14/leinsters-new-blood-swimming-with-the-sharks-in-south-africa-41579322.html Leinster’s offspring swim with the Sharks in South Africa