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Heat is on for with Munster clash - Joe

LEINSTER have been able to ignite their Heineken Cup campaigns by weight of what they have done to Munster in the last two seasons at The Aviva Stadium.

More than ever, Leinster are desperate to continue their recent domination of Munster because coach Joe Schmidt is in search of the continuity that gives you the momentum of victory.

"I certainly, personally, feel more pressure than we've ever had in my three years," said Schmidt.

"In previous years, I felt we had a bit more of a run in. I know that two years ago we were in a similar position. We conceded a bonus-point loss away to Edinburgh.

"But, we had a pretty full team and we'd had a full team in Treviso the week before as well.

We, at least, felt we could build in a certain direction."

The constant changes forced by injury and the IRFU's Player Welfare Programme have left Leinster exposed to what could be a quick exit from Europe.

"I do feel we are a little bit jumbled at the moment. That is something we have to address. The players have to work very hard this week to make sure they are all in tune with how and what we're trying to do."

There is no greater injection of confidence for Leinster than taking down their greatest rivals one week ahead of the start of the Heineken Cup.

"We have been in worse positions in the league table coming into the Munster game. We were five losses out of six, including two in the pre-season, in our first year."

There were rightly fingers pointed at a group of players who did not show the all-out commitment necessary to survive and thrive at this level in Galway.

"We are a team that pride ourselves on being able to put out whatever player into a jersey which requires the same sort of application and physical commitment from week-to-week.

"If that isn't delivered, we are always really disappointed with that. I am a big believer that your performance is an end product of your preparation.

"The better you prepare and the more continuity in your preparation, you're going to have a better chance of a performance. Nothing gets guaranteed in this game.

"Can we turn it around? I am hopeful that we can. We have not had an injury situation that we've currently got," added Schmidt.

"A number of those long-term guys are the guys that have come on and given us the opportunity to have real depth to our squad - Eoin O'Malley, Rhys Ruddock, Dave Kearney, Dominic Ryan, Luke Fitzgerald, a feature player.

"From that perspective, that's a new thing to the environment that is a concern for us. There is a real onus on the key players who formed the skeleton of the team over the last couple of years.

"It is a key time for them to step up to provide the glue and the intensity that the guys can gel around them to get the performance we want against Munster.

"If that doesn't come about, I will be worried."



JOE SCHMIDT'S INJURY UPDATE

ROB KEARNEY (back): "Exeter might be tight. The Scarlets would be realistic."

GORDON D'ARCY (rib): "We're going to make a decision on Friday. I would be hopeful, not confident."

QUINN ROUX (shoulder): "We will probably miss him for a couple of weeks. It is a major frustration for us because he is a guy we want to get a decent look at."


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