Wednesday 28 June 2017

Leinster refusing to take Zebre for granted at the RDS

Take Zebre for granted at your peril warns Girvan Dempsey. Photo: Sportsfile
Take Zebre for granted at your peril warns Girvan Dempsey. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Both of the Italian teams continue to offer little or nothing to the Pro12 but yet, as the worst team in the league arrive in Dublin this evening, Leinster are not taking anything for granted.

Zebre have won just one game all season and have conceded 300 points in the 10 games that they have played.

In contrast, Leinster are the third highest points scorers (303) in the Pro12 and, behind the scenes at least, Leo Cullen will be licking his lips at the prospect of welcoming Zebre to the RDS.

Leinster have much tougher games coming down the line but they also know the importance of not taking their eye off the ball, even if they are facing the league's basement side.

Last season's beaten finalists got back to winning ways against Ulster last weekend but they were left disappointed that having dominated for so long, they failed to come away with the crucial bonus point.

Nevertheless, confidence is high amongst the squad and but for the minor blip in Thomond Park, Leinster have by and large been performing very well this season.

Leapfrogged

Cullen's side were leapfrogged into second place by Ospreys and despite losing to leaders Munster two weeks ago, Leinster remain just five points adrift.

They may not like to admit it publicly but the Leinster coaching staff will be looking for a bonus-point win this evening and with Zebre coming to town, they could hardly have a better chance to do so.

"You take them for granted at your peril," Girvan Dempsey insisted.

"They are a very strong defensive team and they cause you a lot of problems.

"You saw the game we played against them over there. Thinking back, was it 12-10 at half-time? It was a tight game.

"They've got internationals across the team. Carlo Canna plays really well at 10, controls it and runs a good game.

"You've got (Johan) Meyer in the back-row, who causes a lot of problems at the breakdown which is something we've to be aware of.

"They've got a strong pack. You've got to make sure you give them due credit.

"We've done a huge amount of prep on them. We've identified potential opportunities where we can gain success with our attack game.

Important

"We've also identified areas where they can cause us problems in defence. I think it is important that we're clued-in and we've done a huge amount of work on them.

"We realise it is an important game for us this weekend to stay in touch with Munster and the Ospreys in the Pro12 and to get us ready for things coming down the line. But we're focused pretty much on that."

For all of the strength in depth that Leinster boast, it was interesting to hear Dempsey reveal earlier this week that he had to step into training in order to make up the numbers.

Leinster are continuing to monitor the club players in the All-Ireland League and Dempsey admitted that they will be given a chance if they are regularly performing well.

"Barry Daly is a prime example of a guy who showed huge form through the AIL," he said. "We see it as massive. Look at Joey Carbery from last year. It is hugely important to the players."

Leinster may have been slightly stretched in training but it is nothing compared to the problems that Zebre are likely to face this evening.

Irish Independent

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