DFP Header Area

Schmidt: time for our big players to step up

Guinness PRO12 Editor

2 Oct 2012

Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt has called on the club’s biggest stars to step up to the plate and get the Irish province’s RaboDirect PRO12 campaign back on track.

The defending European champions currently sit in sixth position in the table with two defeats from their opening five fixtures, including a 34-6 mauling last time out against Connacht.

But their Irish internationals like Brian O’Driscoll, Jonny Sexton and Jamie Heaslip have all racked up game time in the last three fixtures after being forced to sit out the opening two rounds.

And Schmidt, whose side lost out in last year’s domestic final to the Ospreys, insists that his side’s senior players need to start taking on more responsibility, starting with this weekend’s clash with arch-rivals Munster.

“Some of our senior players need a big game,” he said.

“They have come back later on than the other guys so the games against Connacht, Edinburgh and Treviso have been their pre-season.

“That should be sufficient to see them now leading the team rather than just slotting in and that’s their ambition.

“It was a tough day against Connacht, for the coaching staff and the players and the supporters and they deserved better than that.

“We know that we need to be better than that and by a long shot. I would say however that Connacht are a fantastic side and for people to think we should go there and beat them every time is underestimating them.

“Realistically you do not have to be far off for Connacht to do some damage but we were a long way off and they did some real damage.”

Munster under new head coach Rob Penney currently sit third in the RaboDirect PRO12 table and will come to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday keen to continue their strong start to the season.

And Schmidt knows that a raucous atmosphere could prove vital in carrying his side to a much-needed victory.

“A derby game is an automatic motivation for us, but this one in particular we know a lot of their players very well, they are very friendly in a green jersey but worst enemies in the red and the blue,” he added.

“We always have a super crowd in the Aviva, it’s always very vocal and we are a few men down so if we can get the crowd to be the 16th man then that would be great.

“Even if we are probably not as deserving of their support after last weekend as we should be but hopefully we can put something a bit better together this Saturday.”