Robin McBryde says Jason Jenkins is quickly becoming a key player for Leinster following his impressive start to the season.
The 26-year-old has produced three stand-out displays since joining Leinster in the summer, bagging a try on debut against Zebre and playing a key role in the province's marked improvement at the set-piece.
Having suffered an injury-ravaged 12 months at Munster, Jenkins has appeared keen to make up for lost time and McBryde said the powerful lock has brought a different mentality to the squad.
The Leinster assistant coach said: "He enjoys scrummaging, he enjoys hitting things, that's evident in his play. All the South Africans do. They bring a level of physicality to the game, very power-based, running hard around the corner.
"In fairness to Jason, it's very hard when you're not playing regularly to build up your confidence, and he's probably been unlucky with injuries over the years. Fortunately he's kept a clean bill of health since joining us. I know the medical team worked with him initially.
"He's going to get better and better. The more minutes he gets under his belt, I think he's going to keep on growing.
"He's definitely struck a partnership with Michael Ala'alatoa in front of him in the scrum, he's putting himself about a bit around the park as well, which is great."
Leinster made it three wins from three in the BKT United Rugby Championship last Friday when they avenged last season's back-to-back losses to Ulster.
The visitors’ scrum and lineout again impressed during the 20-13 victory in Belfast, with Dan Sheehan producing another man-of-the-match performance.
Ulster 3-14 Leinster— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) September 30, 2022
22' Leinster turn to the rolling maul and hooker Dan Sheehan powers over for the 21st try for the province. Byrne converts
📱 Updates 👉 https://t.co/aYTTJPkSeX
📻 Listen 👉 https://t.co/7eKrwJNXCL pic.twitter.com/rUD4t8Cwbb
The Ireland hooker’s lineout throwing has seen a marked improvement while Leinster’s driving maul provided him with his fifth try in two games.
"We're very blessed to have somebody like Dan in our ranks," said McBryde. "He's a threat with ball in hand and he got a vital turnover for us at the end of the game against Ulster as well.
"His set-piece is going well at the moment. I'm really chuffed for him. He’s a very strong player, a good all-rounder. You can play towards his strengths as a hooker, with that threat of ball in hand around the tail of the lineout.
"You've got to grasp the opportunity when it comes your way and Dan has certainly done that. He’s on the back of a great summer with Ireland and he has continued in the same form. Long may it last."
Leinster return to the RDS Arena on Saturday to face a Cell C Sharks side that have won the opening two games of their European tour, claiming narrow victories over Zebre Parma and the Dragons.
McBryde said the Ulster game served as ideal preparation ahead of their first South African assignment of the season but warned their maul defence requires much improvement after struggling to contain Ulster.
"I’ve the utmost respect for all the South African teams," said McBryde. "You can see that they're already high in the league, they’ve all started very strongly. I think they'll get stronger and stronger as well.
"Last year was the first time for the everybody involved, I'm sure they learned lessons along the way with regards to the travel, etc. They're all going to be a force to be reckoned with.
"Our maul defence wasn’t as good as it has been last week. We’re going to have to tidy that area up. Traditionally they’re very strong in set-piece anyway. Scrum, lineouts, they’re very competitive.
"It's going to be big ask of us up front so we’ll have improve a little bit on the game last Friday night against Ulster. We were good in some facets, not in others. We were genuinely happy with the first half. We just fell away a little bit second half.
"There's plenty to work on but plenty to put to give us enough confidence to go into the game as well."
Watch live coverage of Leinster v Cell C Sharks on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player on Saturday from 4.45pm.