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Hammett wary of Leinster pedigree as Cardiff target upset

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Cardiff director of rugby Mark Hammett looks on ahead of the Challenge Cup match between Cardiff Blues and London Irish

Cardiff director of rugby Mark Hammett looks on ahead of the Challenge Cup match between Cardiff Blues and London Irish

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Cardiff director of rugby Mark Hammett looks on ahead of the Challenge Cup match between Cardiff Blues and London Irish

It's been a disappointing season for Cardiff Blues, as their lowly Pro 12 position of ninth suggests.

Former All Black Mark Hammett took over as coach at the beginning of the season he has yet to really get his new side to click.

Cardiff have shown what they are capable of in fits and starts - their performance in Dublin at the end of September sums up their frustrating campaign thus far.

Leinster had more than enough to see off the visitors, winning 37-23, but for parts of the game, the Welsh side looked like they could have caused an upset.

However, as with many of their other defeats this season, they ran out of steam.

Platform

Leinster travel to the Welsh capital looking to build on their win over Ulster last time out but the hosts have also set themselves a winning platform as they are eager to gain momentum after beating Newport Gwent Dragons last week.

With Matt O'Connor likely to have one eye on next week's Champions Cup game against Castres, Hammett has no such concerns as his side face Italian minnows Femi-CZ Rugby Rovigo in the Challenge Cup - a competition that, it is worth reminding, does not offer a Champions Cup place for the eventual winners.

It therefore comes as little surprise that Hammett's focus is firmly on Saturday's clash with the reigning Pro12 champions.

"It's a big month and we have a three-week block of very important games. But what is vital is that the players focus only on Leinster," he said.

"We're in good shape after the Dragons game and we are looking forward to the Leinster fixture and what is a big home match.

"All games are important now and we can't hide from the fact that we are where we are in the table for a reason. We are trying to build ourselves up and improve every week.

"Leinster are one of the top sides so it is going to be a challenge and a half. But, like all teams, they have strengths and weaknesses. We will concentrate on our game and see where we can try and upset them."

Strongest

O'Connor may opt to rest one or two key players with Castres in mind but Hammett insisted that he will play his strongest side possible in a bid to climb up the table and attempt to gain Champions Cup qualification for next season.

Out-half Rhys Patchell is set to miss out through injury, while Lions winger Alex Cuthbert has yet to really find his form this season.

On a more positive note, new signing, Argentinian full-back Joaquin Tuculet, has been impressive in recent weeks.

"When you are a team that is a bit low down in the table and are trying to build and go up, then there is no such thing as an easy week," Hammett commented.

"Leinster are no different; they bring a wealth of experience and success from the past and we have got to rise to that challenge.

"We are always up against it and there can be no resting players because there are no easy games for us at the current time, that is where we are as a team.

"We have some big battles to come."

Irish Independent