Schmidt prepares Leinster to prevent Trinh-Duc being a perfect 10
LEINSTER coach Joe Schmidt (right) has identified Montpellier out-half Francois Trinh-Duc as a major threat to the Heineken Cup champions as they kick off the defence of their crown in France on Saturday.
Trinh-Duc lost his place in the France team during the pool stages of the World Cup but made a significant difference when he was introduced in the final against New Zealand after Morgan Parra picked up an injury.
"I think they have quality right across the park," said Schmidt. "Trinh-Duc, I thought he made a massive difference when he came on against the All Blacks.
"It was almost a blessing that Morgan (Parra) -- as much as I admire him as a nine -- got injured at 10 and Trinh-Duc came on and really ran things."
Montpellier reached the Top 14 final last season, only to be edged out in the last 10 minutes by Toulouse, but they have enjoyed nothing like the same form this season.
They have won just one game from nine outings and had last weekend's clash at Lyon called off due to an outbreak of mumps that is sweeping through some of the squads in the league.
However, Fabien Galthie's side are steeped in quality, with flanker and captain Fulgence Ouedraogo and former Ulster wing Timoci Nagusa among their number. The club have also moved the game away from their 14,000-capacity Stade Yves du Manoir to the bigger Stade de la Mosson, the home of the town's football team, which can hold close to 33,000.
Schmidt is well versed in the Top 14, having worked briefly with Galthie at Stade Francais and spent four seasons as backs coach at Clermont.
The Leinster coach is expecting the French side to rediscover their best form this weekend, particularly on their own patch. He said: "They're very big and very strong -- a bit like Racing Metro were last year.
"They bullied their way into the Top 14 final last season and led for 67 minutes. They are a very, very powerful team.
"You have (Juan) Figallo, the prop from Argentina who is a very strong. (Lucas) Amorosino, from Argentina, who scored that superb try against Scotland, he is another guy who featured in the World Cup.
"Those are the guys that probably most people will be aware of, but there are other guys like (flanker) Remy Martin, who has played a lot for France and who does a really good job.
"Sakiusa Matadigo played in the World Cup as well, as the starting No 8 for Fiji. So they are very much the United Nations of Montpellier, who will be very tough to beat. Of that I am absolutely sure."