LEINSTER DID NOT have it all their own way against Zebre at the RDS this evening but one of the main positives to emerge was the positive fitness report delivered by coach Joe Schmidt after the 37-7 victory.
Sean O’Brien rolled an ankle after 25 minutes but carried on until the break, while Jonny Sexton, after a superb opening 40 minutes, did not reappear for the second-half.
Schmidt told TheScore.ie, “The match did go to plan, to be honest. We wanted to come away with a good win. The bonus point is exactly that, it’s a bonus.
“We wanted to ensure that we got four points, reintegrated a few guys and, at the same time, not get injuries.
“There’s no visible injuries at the moment. Everyone is pretty much on their feet and walking around.”
Schmidt added, “[O'Brien] was only ever going to play 40 minutes anyway, he and Jonny. It was a decision we had made beforehand.
“It was just a case of Sean needing a bit of game time, Jonny needing to be reintegrated and I thought they both acquitted themselves really well.”
Sexton was superb for the blues in the first-half, showing the type of devastating running rugby that confounded Argentina at the Aviva last weekend.
He stretched over for his side’s second try and made three fantastic breaks, erring only once when he threw a pass too high for the supporting Fergus McFadden down the left wing. Schmidt said:
Jonny showed a bit of sharpness. He certainly does like to run although he is more renowned for his kicking and passing game. He does bring, for us, a good running game.”
Schmidt paired Andrew Goodman and Gordon D’Arcy in the centre, with the Wexford native donning the 13 jersey.
His performance in open play, capped with a fine offload for McFadden’s second try, has given the Kiwi something to think about ahead of next weekend’s Heineken Cup clash with Clermont Auvergne in France.
D’Arcy was another of the match-winners called ashore early but Schmidt confirmed it had nothing to do with injury and more to do with an eager Tokoroa-born rugby player.
Schmidt revealed, “Isaac [Boss} is a pain in the neck if you don’t put him on. He’s got to get on at some stage. To be honest, again, Gordon is a guy we were looking to give 60 minutes to.
“The great thing about Isaac is he’s very versatile… having both him and Eoin Reddan is one of the best headaches we have.”