Friday 23 February 2018

Leinster face hot reception in Clermont cauldron, says Schmidt

Hugh Farrelly

LEINSTER coach Joe Schmidt says his players will be entering a cauldron when they run out to take on Top 14 champions Clermont in their Heineken Cup showdown at the Stade Marcel-Michelin on Sunday.

Before taking over from Michael Cheika at Leinster, Schmidt spent three years as Clermont backs coach, helping them to their first French title last season, and he is well aware of the daunting challenge facing his squad as they attempt to extend their four-point advantage at the summit of Pool Two.

"I know we are going to get a really hot reception," said Schmidt. "I am viewing it as probably a cold December day in a cauldron; we are going to have a real battle to try to keep our heads above water."

Schmidt was in the Clermont camp when they lost last season's quarter-final at the RDS on a 29-28 scoreline and is looking for Leinster to show the same resolve on Sunday.

"We had a fantastic game last season. Clermont scored three tries to two that night, but left 26 points in missed kicks out on the field," he said.

"Leinster were lucky to get their noses over the line, but they showed all the character we knew they had. You have to go to Clermont and play against them. Hopefully, we can get something out of the game and take some confidence into the second leg."

A decision on Brian O'Driscoll's availability following the jaw injury he sustained in Ireland's win over Argentina will be taken on Friday, while Jamie Heaslip, Cian Healy, Isaac Boss and Jason Harris-Wright are back in contention after missing Leinster's 17-17 draw away to the Scarlets last Friday.

Leinster are expecting more than 500 supporters to make the journey to Clermont this weekend and say that ticket sales for the return fixture at Lansdowne Road are pushing towards 40,000.

Irish Independent

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