DFP Header Area

Weather hasn’t dampened Leinster spirits

Guinness PRO12 Editor

14 Jan 2010

Leinster head coach Michael Cheika insists the ongoing extreme weather hasn’t dampened the spirits of his high-flying side.

The 2007 Magners League Champions currently sit in second place in this year’s standings and have made a solid start to the defence of the European crown they won for the first time last year.

Cheika’s men go into Saturday’s Heineken Cup clash with Brive at the RDS on the back of two successive cancellations after the weather led to the postponement of their Magners League games against Connacht and the Ospreys earlier this month.

But even though they haven’t been involved in a competitive fixture since the Boxing Day win over Ulster, Cheika says his squad are determined to look on the bright side.

“The international players, who have had big workloads, understand what’s required when you have a lay-off for a couple of weeks. They have done it before. So you’ve got to take the positive out of it that they have had a bit of a break in the middle of the season,” said Cheika.

"We’re lucky in one respect that we got a game in over Christmas. There’s always a risk that you haven’t played together but we’ve got to deal with that and other teams are dealing with the same issue.

“It has been pretty difficult to get everyone into an environment where we can get some training done because the fields have been pretty heavily affected and the conditions haven’t been the greatest. But somehow we have come through it without missing any days.”

Leinster head into Saturday’s encounter on the back of three European wins in a row and having secured a try-scoring bonus point on all three occasions.

Those results see them top Pool 6 on points difference from London Irish, although Cheika admits his team still have a lot to do if they are to reach the quart-finals for the seventh time in nine seasons.

A opening day defeat to the Exiles has made things difficult for Leinster, who have to travel to the Madejski Stadium in the final round of group action on January 23.

"We have put ourselves into a situation where every match is a cup final by losing the first game,” added Cheika.

“And we’re still right in the middle of that. Even though we have had a few wins since then, that changes nothing from the fact that we have to win this game.

"The team that we’re playing now is very different to the Brive side we played in October.

"In their last four games they have beaten Toulouse and Perpignan at home and defeated Albi away in the snow.

“They have a far more engaging philosophy now; they’re very much more forward orientated with a lot of mauling and a lot of aggression.

“They’re very hard on the ground and the two new coaches have obviously put their own stamp on things in the contact area, which is something that we’re very mindful of. They’re very combative and their backs are giving them a good platform to get into the game as well.

"Depending on the conditions, I think that we’re going to be in for a real torrid battle on the ground. No matter who they send (over), we have a job to do.”