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In for the kill

Coach Michael Cheika has stressed how this Brive incarnation "is a very different team to the one we played in October", writes Des Berry.





The question is how different? Will there be a transformation in attitude or names, or both?

Since then, Brive have sacked coach Laurent Seigne for the promotion of his assistants, the double act of Ugo Mola and Christophe Laussucq, allegedly at the instigation of their English contingent of players.

It has worked the oracle for three wins out of four, including the treasured scalps of Toulouse and Perpignan to leave Brive with serious claims on a play-off place for the French Top 14 championship.

Therein lies the rub. The ambition must be to plan and prosper in their domestic league. Of course, the historical interest of many French clubs in Europe is dubious.

The commitment of Brive to a lost cause will be revealed from the side announced this afternoon. Their motivation must be diminished by their no-show, so far, in the Heineken Cup. They are pointless after four rounds.

For Leinster, coach Michael Cheika must guard against the sort of complacency that failed to deliver a bonus-point out of their 33-3 defeat of an understrength Olympique Castres in the Pool stage last season.

Out-half Jonathan Sexton will have to show solid form immediately following a six-week lay-off due to injury. The same goes for openside Shane Jennings, who has not played for 13 weeks.

Cheika will place an emphasis on the set-piece where John Fogarty's heel in the scrum and snap at the lineout will have to be right on the money in order to give Leinster the platform for attack.

The key could be to carve Brive up in the first quarter. It would surely diminish their commitment to the cause for the crucial four tries Leinster require to keep the pressure four-square on the shoulders of London Irish.

Ultimately, Leinster must concentrate on what they can do to rip Brive to shreds. They have too many weapons and too much invested in the competition to let the lack of game time interfere with their showdown with the Exiles next week.

Verdict: Leinster


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