Unfortunately things do not get easier for Leinster after the 27-point drubbing they suffered at the hands of Wasps.
The stage was set for the three-time champions to start their campaign with a win at home in what would have been a fitting welcome back for Johnny Sexton and Isa Nacewa.
However, Leinster lost Nacewa to a knee injury he picked up during the week while they also lost O’Brien, Strauss and McCarthy over the course of the game.
Wasps were missing players of their own, their captain James Haskell and fly-half Jimmy Gopperth. They didn’t allow this to deter them as Nathan Hughes and the great George Smith wreaked havoc in the breakdown while the deadly back three of Halai, Wade and Piutau showed some counter-attacking brilliance.
It’s hard to use Leinster’s casualty list as an excuse for this performance. Wasps were the hungrier, more aggressive, more clinical team as they beat the home team in every facet of the game.
What does this mean for Leinster? Failing to win any points from a home game is a European team’s worst nightmare, especially when an away encounter with the Premiership’s 2015 runners-up, Bath, is next on the list.
They will need to have a long, hard look at themselves over the next few days before they travel to England next weekend. Leinster will need to front up and meet Bath head on, they simply cannot afford another loss for they face Toulon back-to-back over the Christmas period.
Leinster’s scrum was taken apart by the Wasps’ pack towards the end of the game. The lack of impact Healy provided off the bench was disappointing. Bath have internationals like Davey Wilson and Rob Webber in their front row so Leinster have every reason to focus on their scrums this week.
As if George Smith terrorizing the breakdown wasn’t enough for Leinster, they will again have their hands full as they try to nullify the threat of Springbok flanker and the World Cup’s top tackler Francois Louw. Leinster fans will be praying that Sean O’Brien comes through the concussion protocol with no delays so that he can combat Louw and keep the turnovers in Leinster’s favour.
Bath are most renowned for their deadly strike runners and Leinster have a lot of work to do as their backline, bar Fergus McFadden and substitute Garry Ringrose, failed to leave any impression on the game.
The likes of Horacio Agulla, Semesa Rokoduguni, Anthony Watson, Kyle Eastmond and Jonathan Joseph are all fearsome counter-attacking backs but it is definitely something Leinster will look to defend and even nullify after they allowed Wasps to run amok.
There is some positivity coming from the Leinster camp in the midst of this record defeat. Luke Fitzgerald is expected to return for the clash in the Rec while Ben Te’o’s go-forward ball could also be a possibility if he proves his fitness.
Garry Ringrose provided a spark off the bench with a magic offload while his teammates floundered. Leo Cullen should definitely consider giving him a place in the XV. A possible baptism of fire could follow for the man who is growing into the Leinster jersey.
It’s simple, Leinster need to win on Saturday if they want their European chances to stay alive.
Gavin Spillane, Pundit Arena