HIS BRILLIANT BURST of pace to cut from 22 to try-line, out-stripping Willie Le Roux along the way, ensured Leinster were firmly on the front foot in their Heineken Champions Cup defence even before Lima Sopoaga was sent to the sin-bin last Friday.
But Sean Cronin didn’t arrive to training this week in self-satisfied mood.
“This morning,” scrum coach John Fogarty recounted on Monday, “walking out of his car the first thing he said to me was: ‘we need to look at the line-out, can we speed this up? We need to look at the process, we need to throw on Tuesday.’”
Polishing up; Cronin in training in Donnybrook this week. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
The powerful Leinster hooker doesn’t come across as someone who is up-tight or needs much unwinding when it comes to down time, but his outward easy-going side is easily peeled away when it’s time for work.
Too much so, noted Fogarty:
“I (then) have to say: ‘okay, one step at a time now’. It’s about clearing our heads, turning the page, seeing what was good about Wasps and what we need to do better.”
Once the page was turned, Fogarty and Leo Cullen will have immersed themselves in line-out footage, poring over the five throws lost during the landslide win over the Premiership side.
Fogarty knows well that the hooker will shoulder the majority of the burden for any mis-firing line-out, but the technicians in the second row are always eager to offer analysis from their point of view.
“I know he got done for a couple of crooked ones at the weekend,” says Devin Toner before alluding to a renewed emphasis from officials around positioning of the hooker and the gap between line-outs as a factor in the errors.
“We had a different kind of setup. A new thing has been set into the reps to look a lot more at the gaps and the lines. Our process wasn’t as good as it could have been at the weekend.”
Toner labels the Limerick man “obviously one of the best hookers in Europe,” but Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has not always reflected that status upon Cronin.