When Aaron Dundon came on for Leo Auva’a (how cool a name is that, by the way?) with 15 minutes or so remaining on Saturday evening, it got me thinking.
Aaron was on the bench ostensibly as back-up to Richardt Strauss, at hooker. Kevin McLaughlin, himself normally a back row player, was playing in the second row, and was cruelly and painfully removed from the pitch on a modified golf-buggy-type stretcher a couple of minutes earlier.
Leinster had already brought on rookie back row player Jordi Murphy for captain Dom Ryan, and were left with little alternative than to play Dundon out of position, when other choices included Jack McGrath (a prop) and Darren Hudson (an academy winger).
With Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien and Shane Jennings all in New Zealand with Ireland’s world cup squad; McLaughlin and Ryan now facing possible long term injuries; and following the retirement of Stephen Keogh and Trevor Hogan (though normally a second row) the most talented pool of back row players at any one team in Ireland has been reduced to a small puddle of academy players, supplemented by out-of-position first team regulars.
It reminded me of the Magners League final 16 months ago against the Ospreys, when Leinster finished with a back row of Heaslip, Strauss and Hogan, or the couple of occasions when Eric Miller and Brian Blaney ended up filling in at centre.
None of those went well.
As a sometime former back row player, I’m nearly tempted bring my boots to the next match!