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O'Driscoll: task is still the same

Brian O'Driscoll is eager to avoid the pitfalls of the final round of games in the Heineken Cup when Leinster tackle London Irish in what he calls a "winner-take-all" confrontation in Pool 6 at Twickenham on Saturday.

Ireland's captain was keen to stress how "nothing has really changed. The likelihood was that it would come down to this game. We have the same attitude today we had before the game (against Brive). We have to win."

O'Driscoll knows, more than most, that doubts and deliberations can cause confusion and indecisiveness among individuals when unity of purpose and a clear line of thinking are required to get the job done from a full-strength squad, except for the long-term absence of Luke Fitzgerald.

"There are all sorts of permutations and combinations. As players, we can't buy into that. We can't think about what might be. We have to make sure we get into the knockout stages," he said.


Of course, Leinster had to do it the hard way last season as they plotted a path to glory on the road from the single-point win over Harlequins in the quarter-final at The Stoop to the eclipse of Leicester Tigers at Murrayfield in May.

"It is in our own hands," he continued. It is just a case of making sure we put ourselves there (in the quarter-final)."

Of course, the possibility of an away quarter and the more remote catastrophe of missing out altogether still loom on the horizon in the event of a defeat by London Irish on Saturday.

The Exiles' half-hour collapse against The Scarlets has taken some of the gloss off what was being billed as the most exciting match of the weekend.

O'Driscoll will not waver: "The result at Scarlets hasn't changed anything. We want to go over to Twickenham and win to guarantee a home quarter-final."

London Irish must throw caution to the wind. There remains a sense that The Exiles could be freed from the shackles of pressure by their seemingly hopeless position.

If there is any club in the Premiership equipped to throw caution to the wind, it is them with head coach Toby Booth and backs guru Mike Catt never afraid to play adventurously.

The Scarlets proved against Irish how certain teams, irrespective of their strengths on paper, match-up together.

Leinster know all about this from their struggles to contain Edinburgh in Scotland down the years.

"They play that expansive game. They are capable of scoring a lot of tries if they click. We have to bring our game, make it hard for them," voiced O'Driscoll.

"If you can get a home quarter-final you can rest easily for a couple of months.

"For the most part, we are preparing for this performance and making sure we are much better than when we played them in round one."

It is an attitude that must exist in every player in what is sure to be a hum-dinger between Leinster's desire for a home quarter-final and London Irish's will to complete the double over the European champions.