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Schmidt: We owe the fans a performance

Guinness PRO12 Editor

7 Sep 2012

Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt admits his side owe their supporters a performance when they return to the RDS for the first time since their heartbreaking RaboDirect PRO12 final defeat at the end of May.

Schmidt’s troops narrowly missed out on becoming the first side to do the domestic and European double since Wasps in 2004 when Shane Williams pounced in the closing stages of his final Ospreys appearance to seal a 31-30 win.

That sucker punch appears to have carried over into this season as Leinster lost their season curtain raiser 45-20 at the Scarlets last weekend.

Still deprived of their 11 internationals and with the Dragons coming to town on Saturday, Schmidt now has to fire up his troops or face losing their third successive domestic league game for the first time since 2008.

But Schmidt insists that the Dublin home crowd will prove the difference against a Dragons side that have only won once in their last nine outings to the Irish province.

“Going back to the RDS is very much in the forefront of our minds, the players love playing there,” he said.

“They like the atmosphere that is created there and that is all down to the supporters.

“The players feel a debt to supporters and a frustration that we could not quite repay that last year at the end of the season.

“So this year it’s really important for us that we start the season well so it’s really up to us to make sure we do that, starting this weekend against the Dragons.”

In addition to the disappointment of defeat at the Parc y Scarlets last time out the European champions also lost Isaac Boss and Dominic Ryan to injury.

Neither will be available this weekend meaning that Schmidt is almost down to the bare bones of his squad but the New Zealander insists his side must maintain their belief if they are to emerge on the winning side.

“The Scarlets game was disappointing, we felt that we could be competitive but we knew with the team they sent out with the Welsh internationals they would be very difficult to beat,” he added.

“But at the same time you have to have faith in what you can bring to the game so from that point of view we were disappointed.

“In addition to the result we also got a few injuries, Dominic Ryan and Isaac Boss, which is a bit of a blow and won’t help in preparation for this weekend.”