Schmidt not concerned about BOD and Rob
Coach assures fans that both O'Driscoll and Kearney will be play in the final, no matter what
Leinster coach Joe Schmidt has pronounced himself "100 per cent" certain that Brian O'Driscoll and Rob Kearney will start against Ulster this evening.
However, the truth of the matter is that both men will be less than 100pc fit as O'Driscoll sat out the Captain's Run at Twickenham and Kearney underwent the light session.
"Brian didn't train today, but Rob had a run. He's feeling fairly comfortable and we are confident he will be out there with Brian," said Schmidt.
"It is pretty much 100 per cent they will both be playing and there is no medical reason why they can't.
"Brian hasn't had a reaction to the knee operation and the presumption is he will play a full part -- and that is certainly his presumption."
In an overall context, Schmidt cannot afford to dwell on the fact that Ulster have won just one of the last 16 in the rivalry between the two provinces.
He dare not look back to the three wins in the league (then the Magners League) last season, including the semi-final, at an aggregate score of 82-42, or at this term's PRO12 double at the RDS (42-13) in December and at Ravenhill (16-8) last month.
"This time the stakes are raised. They have performed better. They are in the Heineken Cup final," warned Schmidt.
"And so the whole thing has been taken to another level. We've got to be able to cope with that."
Ulster do not have a high-powered offence to compare with that of Leinster. It would be unhealthy and unwise to play into the champions' hands.
Instead, Ulster have to put pressure on, keep it nice and tight up front, oil the line-out, stabilise the scrum, kick smartly, ferret the breakdown, come up hard and fast in defence and attack cleverly.
"They have got an excellent kicking game. Pienaar is excellent. Paddy Jackson is a very good kicker of the ball. Stefan Terblanche is, again, a very good kicker of the ball," said Schmidt.
"If they get ball in behind you, they come up and put pressure on you with the ball.
"They can make the most of the opportunities they create through their defence.
"At the same time, they have some super attacking players. (Craig) Gilroy, (Andrew) Trimble, Darren Cave -- I have a lot of respect for him -- and they have got Paddy Wallace to distribute."
For all that, Ulster will look to their tight forwards to generate momentum at scrum, line-out and maul, while the huge back row of Stephen Ferris, Chris Henry and Pedrie Wannenburg are impact players.
Schmidt admits to being "more uncomfortable" this year than last, with the all-Irish angle to the final adding an unpredictable edge to the occasion.
"Against Northampton, we were quite separate from them. It was easy enough to do the Irish-English battle.
"Sometimes the people you know create more of a fear factor because we know how good they are.
"Discipline is going to be crucial. Ruan Pienaar's ability to kick long range goals was crucial against Munster. He just built small margins that became a large margin that became an unstoppable margin. We've got to control that by keeping our discipline."