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No trophies yet warns Leinster boss

Guinness PRO12 Editor

18 May 2011

Joe Schmidt may be on the cusp of leading his side to an historic double but the Leinster head coach knows nothing has been accomplished just yet.

Leinster stand on the cusp of Magners League and Heineken Cup glory as they prepare for two massive match ups over the next 10 days.

A European encounter with Northampton will be followed by an all-Irish showdown with Munster in what could be the perfect way for Schmidt to end his first season in Dublin.

No other side has lifted the Magners League and Heineken Cup trophies in the same season so for Schmidt to achieve that target in his debut campaign since moving from Clermont Auvergne would be a truly remarkable story.

But while the Dubliners are the continent’s form team at the moment and are being heavily tipped to complete the first stage of their double this Saturday, Schmidt knows the hard work is still to come.

"We don't have any trophies at the moment and we're desperate to win them," said Schmidt.

"The best thing about it is you're now going to be judged on 80 minutes and it's the 80 minutes that is the hardest to get to."

While everyone at Grand Final rivals Munster is already focusing on the Magners League showdown at Thomond Park on Saturday, May 28, Leinster have had to put that particular fixture to their back of their minds.

Few would doubt that the best preparation for that clash would be Heineken Cup victory but Schmidt knows their European chances will be over before they know it unless they are fully prepared for a Northampton side who have a 100 per cent record in this year’s Heineken Cup.

"Northampton are a massive blip on our radar," added Schmidt.

"From a media perspective, they will have a lot quieter run-in, but they've won eight from eight. They want to be the first team ever to win nine from nine and they've just about got the firepower to do it.

"They're well coached by Jim Mallinder. He's been recoginsed as the Aviva Premiership coach of the year and they have some real quality about them.

"Maybe our route to the Heineken Cup Final was a tough route and an opportunity to get some really good preparation, but they played Leicester this weekend. That will be some real good preparation to ease their way into a Heineken Cup final.

"We've had to do it a lot tougher than two years ago (when Leinster won their first European trophy), I've no doubt about that. The one thing I'd say is if we can manage to get our nose in front after 80 minutes in Cardiff, I don't think anyone would dispute that we do deserve it because it has been a tough enough road."