Friday 23 June 2017

Schmidt tells Leinster they must front up to 'big, angry red men'

Hugh Farrelly

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt has warned his players that if they do not front up physically to the "big, angry red men" of Munster, they will come undone in Thomond Park this Saturday.

Munster have responded impressively to their Heineken Cup pool exit in January, and have opened up a 12-point lead at the top of the Magners League table.

Both sides are chasing home league semi-finals and readying themselves for European quarter-finals next week, but Munster will also be desperate to prevent a sixth straight loss to Leinster.

Victory would be the perfect boost for Tony McGahan's side ahead of their Challenge Cup showdown in Brive, and Schmidt expects a ferocious assault.

"It's not often they're matched physically, especially at home," said Schmidt yesterday. "That's why you've got to go there with desire and there's got to be a fair bit of it, because they are big, angry red men.

"When they came out of the Heineken Cup, I thought they were going well. It was one game away in Toulon that didn't go too well for them, but they've got a pretty astute coaching staff and quality players. Defensively, they're very difficult to break down and Paul O'Connell being back is a massive boon -- he really lifts the whole level of expectation and confidence."

Leinster's main injury worry is flanker Shane Jennings, who has a "knee niggle" and did not train yesterday. A decision on his availability is likely to be made tomorrow.

Paul Warwick trained with Munster following his visit to Australia, while Denis Fogarty and Denis Hurley have both been cleared to play, the latter having fully recovered from a knee injury.

Meanwhile, scrum-half Tomas O'Leary (eye) is expected back in two weeks and will see a specialist later this week; hooker Jerry Flannery (calf) is due to undergo a surgical procedure in Santry.

Irish Independent

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