Blues have to slow down Wasps fliers if they're to progress in Champions Cup

English giants stand in way of progress for O'Connor's men

Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor

"You never want to let a game get that much of your control, particularly with the pace that Wasps had out wide. We saw that first hand with (Christian) Wade and Varndell and others getting their hands on the ball.

"They wanted that wide expansive game, so we had to get a bit more structure on the game, and I think that kind of showed in the middle third of the game."

That was the immediate post-match reaction of Gordon D'Arcy to how Leinster struggled to contain Wasps' speed merchants in the 2013 Challenge Cup quarter-final at Adams Park. Time can alter perspective.

It doesn't seem to have happened when it comes to the sting of these Wasps. What stood out then, stands out now.

"Nothing beats speed," said Matt O'Connor.

"That's the reality of it and those blokes are as quick as there is in the game."

That is the frank assessment from the coach as Leinster bid to keep Wade and Varndell under control in a do-or-die Champions Cup encounter at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

"It's making sure that you manage the opportunities that they get, making sure that we have bodies in front of them and making sure that we have bodies in the backfield, so that it doesn't turn into a foot race."

For all of Leinster's liking for tempo, there is a difference between the speed at which a team plays and the individual speed a player can bring.

"If they can create situations where it is a foot race, they're probably going to win," said O'Connor.


"We need to make sure it's more about rugby and less about foot speed by making sure our work rate is really good and we manage the opportunities that they get because we look after the ball and we don't give them unstructured opportunities to play to the edge and find space."

Where Leinster went all-out against Castres, they will be all-in this time.

The last option should be to play into Wasps hands by doing what Harlequins did in playing at astonewall defence rather than around it.

Leinster will probably look to kick, at times, and force Wade and Varndell to make decisions in defence, on the turn, as opposed to attack.

"Every week is different. The weather conditions are different. The opposition are different. You just need to manage those situations to our strengths versus their strengths.

"I think there will be a little bit of kicking this week because of the stakes," said O'Connor.

"We have to make sure they're quality kicks and we get bodies around the ball and we deal with any dynamic that can give those guys space in those channels."

The Australian did not take the bait to air his views on the criticism he has had to stomach in recent months.

Leinster are one more win away from heading Pool 2 and carving out a home quarter-final in what is a reduced, more testing version of the European Cup.

"It's about the environment and we have worked incredibly hard to put ourselves in this position," he said.

"It's not about personal objectives or anything else. It is about the team delivering a performance on Saturday.

"If we can do that, and we have fought very hard to do it, we give ourselves the ability to control what happens to us which is important."

Of course, Leinster's last challenge in the Pool is also their greatest as Wasps know a win will give them a place at the quarter-final table.