Sport Leinster Rugby

Wednesday 26 October 2016

McQuilkin demands a big response

Published 15/01/2016 | 02:30

Leinster’s Sean Cronin goes through his paces during a training session at Donnybrook this week. Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster’s Sean Cronin goes through his paces during a training session at Donnybrook this week. Photo: Sportsfile

On paper, tomorrow's Champions Cup meeting with Bath may be a dead rubber but there is plenty at stake for the Leinster players as they look to build momentum and indeed salvage some pride from a European campaign that hasn't gone at all to plan.

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That's according to defence coach Kurt McQuilkin, who is hoping to inspire his side to avoid losing five pool games on the bounce.

Leinster have shown plenty of signs of improvement in recent weeks and McQuilkin insists that the players still "cherish" these kind of games.

"It's about even more than that (avoiding fifth consecutive defeat). . . to gain some sort of momentum," he said.

"We want to keep that momentum up. We want to keep that going but obviously Europe you are playing quality sides.

"It's another big test for us this weekend and we are really looking forward to the challenge. It's as tough as it's going to be.

"We're motivated, we want to keep performing. We just want to keep that momentum rolling. Yeah it's a dead rubber but we want to perform for our supporters at home against a top side in Bath.

"Even though this is a dead rubber you cherish these matches, these quality teams coming and playing in your back yard.

"It's still a huge challenge and something we are looking forward to.

"Definitely we'll get out there and give it out level best and try and put on a performance for our loyal supporters out there."

Leinster have already been beaten by Bath in the competition but the English side have had their struggles in the Premiership since.

Bath are languishing in ninth place having lost five of their eight league games this season and they know that nothing more than a win tomorrow evening at the RDS would keep alive their very slim hopes of advancing to the knockout stages.

But despite Bath's poor run of form, McQuilkin is anticipating another tough encounter.

"Watching them perform against Toulon (last weekend) we know exactly what they are going to bring, so it will be another rugged, physical encounter," the Kiwi maintained.

"We're obviously going to have to be aware of their pace out in the wider channels. Its going to be a huge challenge.

"It's a case for us now of finishing out this European pool. Finishing it on a good note, and then stepping up for what will be a very big game also against Dragons in a couple of weeks.

"There's no intention of putting out any second-rate side. We are going to put out the best team available to us, the best team we think can do a job for us this weekend."

With Leinster facing a crucial block of games in the Pro12 following their final two games in the Champions Cup as well as the fact that they will be without the majority of their front liners during the Six Nations, McQuilkin added that he firmly believed that his squad is strong enough to cope with the demands of the next few weeks.

"You look at teams that have done that in our league. You look at Scarlets, for the sake of it, they started off well, but they've picked up injuries, having to battle on two fronts. So, that sort of hurts you.

"I guess we're lucky that we've got a bigger squad, and we can manage players throughout the season, and I think you have to when you're battling it on two fronts.

"We've just got to get on with our job."

Irish Independent

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