Sunday 25 June 2017

Schmidt points finger at Leinster players for dismal start to campaign

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt has seen his side lose three times in four games this season
Leinster coach Joe Schmidt has seen his side lose three times in four games this season
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

LEINSTER COACH Joe Schmidt has laid the blame for Friday's defeat to Edinburgh at the hands of his players -- branding their missed tackles as "unforgivable".

The New Zealander presided over his third defeat in four games and knows his side have to improve as their season enters a critical phase this weekend.

First up, they welcome Munster to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday for a derby clash that is nearing a sell-out, with less than 1,000 tickets still available.

Hot on the heels of the all-Irish affair -- which is set to break the Magners League attendance record -- Leinster open their Heineken Cup campaign the following weekend against a Racing Metro side sitting second in the Top 14 and then face an in-form Saracens at Wembley.

And having conceded four tries at Murrayfield and shipped more than two per game this season, Schmidt knows his side need to drastically improve their defensive effort. The former Clermont backs coach says he has not changed the system, but that the fault lies with individual mistakes.

"We haven't done anything differently other than miss tackles," he said. "I think our actual systems errors have been quite low, we've just missed one-on-ones. I think guys will put their hands up and say that we need to do better on our one-on-ones.

"Tackle misses are unforgivable at this level. Once you let a guy who's an effective ball carrier through a half-tackle or through a couple of tackles and then you're in trouble, you're chasing."

Schmidt will taste the ferocious nature of these clashes for the first time on Saturday, but having seen Munster at first hand with Clermont, he believes they are beatable.

"I know that Munster are formidable but I also know we had two relatively comfortable wins over them when I was over there and these guys are every bit as good. Maybe just at this stage it's about getting them to believe that," he said.

Irish Independent

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