Elsom legacy boosts Irish
Rocky Elsom's impact on Irish rugby can still be felt two years after he left the country according to Munster's David Leamy.
Last Updated: 13/09/11 5:58pm
Rocky Elsom's impact on Irish rugby can still be felt two years after he left the country according to Ireland back row David Leamy.
The Australian - a former European player of the year - achieved almost legendary status during his single season at Leinster, which included a man-of-the-match performance in the 2009 Heineken Cup final.
And Leamy believes the flanker has had a profound influence on his national team's back row, not least in the case of former club team-mates Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip.
Speaking ahead of Ireland's World Cup clash with Australia in Auckland on Saturday, Leamy said the 28-year-old blindside had left a potent legacy.
"Rocky had quite a big impact on Irish rugby during the brief time he was playing in Ireland," said the Munster back row.
"In his time at Leinster he was excellent, from what I could gather looking in. He brought on the guys around him.
"He's left a bit of a legacy there. Jamie and Sean were younger than him and he's definitely rubbed off on them. You can see the dynamism in their game, it's very similar to the way Rocky plays."
Leamy knows he will have to be at his best if he hopes to neutralise the threat from Elsom at Eden Park.
"I've played against some very good back rows over the last few years and he's certainly right up there at the top," he added.
"There's nothing he can't do. He has a fantastic engine, is a tall man who is good in the line-out and is extremely strong with the ball.
"There aren't many weaknesses to his game and he is always very influential in matches."
The danger posed by the Wallabies' half-backs Quade Cooper and Will Genia is also not lost on Leamy, who expects a busy night for Ireland's back row trio.
"Australia are full of quality so there will be threats across the park," said Leamy.
"But you have to really look at nine and 10. They're huge players with a lot of pace and a lot of guile.
"Any rugby fans or anyone who has half an interest in the game will know how good these guys are and how they can change a game in an instant.
"They're very exciting to watch, hopefully we can shut them down. Our back row must put as much pressure on them as possible.
"We'll have to work as unit because if anyone steps out of line, they'll exploit the space."