The Rugby Club: Leinster coach Matt O'Connor on their fantastic start to the season

Last Updated: 29/11/13 10:11am

Matt O'Connor: Enjoying life at Leinster

Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor spoke to The Rugby Club ahead of his team's Heineken Cup fixture with Northampton - live on Sky Sports on December 7th.

O'Connor replaced Joe Schmidt at the Leinster helm this summer and has had a decent start in the Rabodirect Pro12 sitting in third place with five wins.

It's not all that simple though; the former Brumbies and Leicester coach has the tough prospect of easing the transition of his aging players including O'Driscoll, Cullen, D'Arcy, Jennings, Reddan, Boss and Ross, who are likely to hang up their boots in the near future.

"Professional environments are always evolving and you've got to back yourself to ingrain that mentality in the next group of guys and make them better."

Matt O'Connor

Do you have to manage the expectations for the next two or three years?

O'CONNOR: Potentially, people want to win, especially when the environment and the culture are built around winning trophies but at the end of the day there are other things that are important.

I was involved with the Brumbies when we lost iconic players like Gregan, Larkin, Mortlock and the George Smith, so it's not something that I'm totally new to. Professional environments are always evolving and you've got to back yourself to ingrain that mentality in the next group of guys and make them better.

One area where O'Connor has laid his marker is in defence; no-one in Europe has conceded fewer points or tries this season. That tenacity has helped put Leinster top of Pool 1 in the Heineken Cup.

What have you changed in defence?

O'CONNOR: There was a feeling that they weren't as competitive at the ball as they were with the ball and that was right through the organisation with the players; the coaches and everyone involved thought they needed to be harder to play against. That takes a little bit longer with the ball. Given that we've been a little disjointed in our ability to select the same blokes week-on-week, the combinations and the subtleties that go with that will take a bit of time. The guys are working really hard and starting to understand and it will evolve in time, I think we're in a pretty good place.

Next week Leinster face their toughest challenge to date in this season's Heineken Cup when the visit Northampton in a repeat of the 2011 final when the Irish side came out victors.

What are Northampton's strengths and do they have a Plan B?

O'CONNOR: At home they play on emotion. They like to create on their feet, they like to drive at you, push and get penalties at scrum. If you don't and can't match that, you won't be in it after 20 minutes so that'll be a huge focus for us.

Make sure you don't miss Northampton v Leinster live on Sky Sports 2, December 7th at 6pm.