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Treviso in for a Leinster lesson

The Gods may be starting to crack a gentle smile on Joe Schmidt.

New recruits Benetton Treviso will block his route to a second win in three rounds of the Magners League before what is sure to be a big crowd at Stadio di Monigo this evening.

Italian lock Enrico Pavanello, who has won eight caps, has spoken with reverence about the quality of the Leinster squad.

"If we were to concentrate on the names in the two squads, then it wouldn't be worth our while to turn up at the dressing-room," said the 29-year-old.

This is a certain concession of a deficit in talent. The Italians are not flush with confidence. They know they are over-matched. In other words, it is Leinster's to lose.

Nevertheless, Schmidt would do well to heed the rallying cry of Pavanello: "However, we hold no fear. We will look to give no quarter and to implement our plan in every detail of the game."

Even though the unavailable Jonathan Sexton's quad muscle is not as badly damaged as first thought, rookie fly-half Ian Madigan will stand sentinel again to follow up on his match-clinching contribution last Saturday.

While Michael Cheika talked openly about developing the next generation, he was cautious in his use of them. Schmidt does not have the luxury of his frontline players as often as he would like. Like the under-nourished, he will be strictly rationed by the IRFU.

Schmidt has to delve into the heart of the domestic pool of players. His warm manners make him the ideal candidate to bring these players along slowly. He will have to have the patience of a saint.

This is no place for learning on the job, however, as the number crunching imperative of winning is all that matters for growing the brand Leinster.

More than that, Schmidt will be able to reintroduce greater firepower in the presence of Robert Kearney, Gordon D'Arcy, Eoin Reddan and Rhys Ruddock for this relatively exotic flight to Italy.

Leinster have been to more intimidating rugby venues than Stadio di Monigo and come away with the points. Cian Healy, John Fogarty and Mike Ross and the back-five supporting cast will have to remain steady in the scrum and whip around on the outside to make their attack count.


The two clubs have met twice before in the European Cup in season 2004-2005. Leinster completed the double coming away from Treviso 25-9 winners and lashing in the tries (57-17) at Lansdowne Road on the return date.

It must be noted that Treviso have won their last five matches at this picturesque venue since Munster beat them there in January. They have already taken the scalp of The Scarlets in the Magners.

"We are not unduly worried because we have shown against The Scarlets and the champion Ospreys that we play with no fear," said Pavanello.

Their South African coach Franco Smith has already indicated the difference the Magners League inclusion has made to the energy and profile of his club.

"This is a massive opportunity for the players, club and country as a whole. It is our chance to grow and influence the future of the sport in Italy," said Smith.

It was plain to see that the visit of The Scarlets tempted a support eight-times larger than that which they would normally expect in what was the domestic Italian Super 10 competition.

"Playing in the domestic game in Italy we were attracting just 600-700 supporters and were lucky to get a report in the local paper, but over 5,500 people turned up and all the national papers covered the game," said Smith.

"The atmosphere was fantastic. It was a gorgeous evening in a packed stadium with a good game on the field -- the perfect advert for rugby.

"Success at club level will filter throughout the game, right from the international side down to the youth and it is a really exciting time," stated Smith.

It is easy to see that Treviso and Aironi are somewhere back down the road that the Irish provinces found themselves on not so long ago. They are at the start of a long and testing journey.

Leinster should be able to remind them of how far they have to go.

Benetton Treviso: B Williams; J Maddock, T Benvenuti, A Sgarbi, L McLean; K Burton, T Botes; I Fernandez-Rouyet, L Ghiraldini (capt), L Cittadini, V Bernabo, C van Zyl, R Barbieri, A Zanni, M Vosawai.

Leinster: R Kearney; I Nacewa, E O'Malley, G D'Arcy, L Fitzgerald; I Madigan, E Reddan; C Healy, J Fogarty, M Ross, N Hines, E O'Donoghue, R Ruddock, S Jennings (capt), S O'Brien.

3Treviso v Leinster, TG4, KO 6.05