Pat Leach looks to terrify in Munster mash
IT’S not just the security scanner at Shannon Airport that Pat Leach wants to set off this weekend, the Newport Gwent Dragons centre hopes to get the chance to trigger alarm bells in Munster’s defence.
After starting the first three games of the season the 27-year-old will be on the bench in tomorrow’s RaboDirect Pro12 clash at Thomond Park.
But even losing his starting spot won’t wipe the smile off Leach’s face after a nightmare 2011/12.
Leach, from Colwyn Bay, suffered a horror facial injury in the loss to Connacht in Galway last September that led to doubts about his future in the game.
He shattered his left eye socket with the surgeon likening the injury to that suffered by a man hit with a baseball bat.
Leach had metal plates inserted into the left side of his face with a wire mesh to hold his eye up.
He was sidelined for four months before making his comeback in January’s LV Cup game against the Ospreys… in which he broke his hand.
The centre returned for the final game of the season against Leinster but was happy to draw a line under a shocking campaign.
Happily things have started well this season with Leach forming an impressive midfield partnership with Andy Tuilagi.
It is broken up for tomorrow’s clash at Thomond Park with both of them among the replacements, but you won’t hear Leach complaining.
“I’ve been delighted with my start and I don’t think it could have gone any better for me,” he said.
“Obviously it wasn’t great to lose to Leinster and Cardiff Blues but it’s just been nice playing again and it’s great to still be involved on the bench this weekend.
“Last season was massively frustrating but it was good to get a half in the very last game against Leinster, because I still wasn’t sure what would happen if I got another bang on my face.
“It was just a case of building up my confidence bit by bit in training and I don’t even think about my eye socket in games now.”
Leach, whose favoured position is inside centre but who has played 13, wing and full-back for the region, misses out to Adam Hughes tomorrow evening.
It means he will have to bide his time as the Dragons look to exorcise a few demons following last weekend’s woeful 16-5 home defeat to the Blues.
“Everyone was down on Monday after such a disappointing loss but we have got nothing to lose in Munster and just have to give it our best shot,” said Leach.
“Nobody is expecting us to beat them but I am sure we can come away with some points.
“We need to put the things that we have practised into place, execute our patterns and be accurate.
“The belief is there, it’s just a matter of delivering.”