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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Michael Scully

Leinster set to stick with winning formula - but could they face another coaching twist?

Leinster look on course to stick with their Racing conquerors for Friday night's RDS clash with Gloucester.

Yet it remains to be seen if their scrum coach Robin McBryde will twist and become another Blues coach heading out the exit door next summer following the return of Warren Gatland as Wales boss.

Skipper Johnny Sexton and first-choice tighthead Tadhg Furlong sat out last Saturday's Champions Cup opener but it was business as usual as the province hammered Racing 42-10 in Le Havre.

READ MORE: Leinster v Gloucester kick-off time, TV and stream information, date, team news, betting odds and more

Sexton and Furlong are only returning to full fitness after respective calf and ankle problems and they are big doubts to face Gloucester.

“Well they’re just starting running, so it’s going to be a big step for them, a big leap," McBryde said.

“They’re going to need to go through certain protocols. To do that in a condensed and short week is a big ask.

"It's up to the physios. Obviously there’s a big year ahead with the World Cup at the end of it. We just need to get him (Furlong) back fit and playing well.

"In fairness to the boys, we realise you can’t completely ignore it. You know it’s coming. However, let’s get the season out of the way first and then you can focus on that.

"It’s a bit too early for the players to start thinking of it. There’s quite a few things between now and then. We just need to keep them on track and focused."

On a positive note for Leinster, Ross Byrne ran the show in seamless fashion last weekend in Sexton's absence, while Samoan Test prop Michael Ala'alatoa showed again how he was adjusted to northern hemisphere rugby.

The challenge for Leinster after the big win against the Top 14 leaders is to refocus ahead of their clash with Premiership quality opponents.

"It's a great start, don't get me wrong, but it's a different challenge and it's only one game as well," said McBryde.

"We weren't as free flowing as we were in the first half - and we weren't as effective.

"Knowing Gloucester, they've got a very good defensive lineout and a mauling team again so our maul defence has got to be on the money. So it’s just different threats, different mindset."

Leinster’s Garry Ringrose scores a try (Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland)

Leinster lost Felipe Contepomi to Argentina last May and their senior coach, Stuart Lancaster is joining Racing as head coach in the summer.

Gatland's return to Wales as Wayne Pivac's replacement comes 10 months out from the World Cup and the Kiwi will surely look for tried and trusted lieutenants.

McBryde, 52, was certainly that as he was with Gatland throughout the entirety of his first spell in charge of the principality and also worked with him on the 2019 Lions tour.

The Bangor man's current Leinster contract is up next summer.

Asked if Gatland had approached him about coming on board, McBryde responded: "No. I've exchanged texts with him, wished him all the best but that's where it (ended).

"I go back a long way with Gats. He'll give them a shot in the arm, definitely.

"He's more than comfortable with players and staff alike. Knowing Gats, he'll have an effect, definitely, and you never know what he's going to do next, really.

"I don't know what his plan is going to be with regards to the existing staff there. I haven't spoken to him in that detail, really. We'll see how that one plays out.

"Listen, I don't know the ins and outs of it, but he said it himself, there's a lot on the line with regards to the legacy he left behind.

"He's coming back in order to grab things and shake them up and to try to make Wales a little bit better from a national perspective. Hopefully he can do that ahead of the Six Nations and the World Cup.

"Ireland at home first, isn't it for Wales, so....".


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