We can rescue season, insists Schmidt as Blues lose again
JOE SCHMIDT has backed his players to rescue their season – in both the Pro12 and the Heineken Cup.
And the Leinster coach, while acknowledging that Ulster's 16-point lead over them in the league table is unassailable, has appealed for time as the players seek to pull themselves out of the hole they now find themselves in.
"We can't catch them from here but we will roll our sleeves up and dig ourselves out of this hole after Christmas hopefully," said Schmidt.
And Schmidt appealed for patience from the Leinster supporters as they seek to arrest an alarming slide that has seen them lose on three consecutive weekends.
"We haven't become a poor side overnight. We could do with a couple of weeks to glue some guys back together but we are working hard to get things right," he added.
And with some players due back from injury, Schmidt is confident that the period after Christmas will see an upsurge in their performances and results.
"We've run out of time almost in both competitions. We do have to start accumulating points and that's a massive challenge for us now.
"We will be able to build with guys coming back.
"Confidence is a fickle thing as well, and having guys back will be a huge thing for the players," said Schmidt.
"It's really important that we shore ourselves up and the sooner we get a bit of experience back the better because we have some really big games coming up in the Heineken.
"I am confident we can dig ourselves out. The team may have disappointed people in the last couple of weeks but they are working hard and they have earned people's patience over the last few years. We can turn things around."
Meanwhile, Munster coach Rob Penney has forecast a "nightmare" for his side ahead of this evening's trip to face Connacht at the Sportsground – despite the fact that the home side have won just once in the last 37 meetings between the sides.
"They are going to be a nightmare," said Penney of a Connacht side aiming for a clean sweep of derby wins this year. "They have a group there with quite a lot of Heineken Cup experience now.
"They are not the new boys on the group, an inexperienced group of young fellas. They have had the same cohort together for a while, so they are a mature tough group.
"They've beaten Leinster up there and also Ulster earlier on in the year, so they love the derbies and they'll be seeing this as a great opportunity to celebrate Christmas in a fine way by taking our scalp up there."