Season without silverware would be 'step back' for Leinster, admits Rob Kearney
Leinster star Rob Kearney has admitted that failure to win Saturday's Pro12 final would represent a "step back" for the province.
The full-back conceded that the province's performances have not been up to their previous standards during a season where they topped the league table and qualified from a difficult Heineken Cup pool, but exited Europe in disappointing circumstances and have come in for criticism for their style of play.
The RDS clash will have added importance for both teams, given that the winners will be guaranteed to be top seeds in the draw for next year's European Rugby Champions Cup pools.
The players are intent on finishing this campaign with a seventh trophy in seven seasons to keep their record of success intact, despite the squad going through some transition.
"I think this year it's even more import-ant, because there has been a lot of change," Kearney said of finishing off the job.
"Our performances have dipped a huge amount and I think it's a sign of a really good team if you are poor throughout a season and can still come away with a trophy at the end of it.
"I think, given our history over the last four or five years winning silverware, to envisage a season where that didn't happen would illustrate that you're taking a step back."
Coach Matt O'Connor is without Luke Fitzgerald, Dave Kearney and Richardt Strauss for Saturday's game, but Mike McCarthy trained yesterday and could return.
It is understood that the Rugby Champions Cup will have five pools of four next season, with the draw being made on June 10.
The teams will be split into four hats with five teams in each. The champions from this weekend's English Premiership, Top 14 and Pro12 finals will be top seeds and will be joined by two of the three runners-up in pot one after a draw.
The third runner-up would go into pot two with four of the six semi-finalists from the three leagues, who could include Munster and Ulster, with the tiered structure continuing from there.