Brian O'Driscoll: Unrealistic Leinster fans expect too much
Champions Cup countdown: Leinster v Bath
BRIAN O'DRISCOLL believes Leinster fans must temper their expectations ahead of Saturday's Champions Cup quarter-final meeting with Bath.
The legendary centre, who was part of the province's three Heineken Cup wins and their Challenge Cup triumph, says that Matt O'Connor's side should not be held up to the standards set by previous teams.
Branding criticism of the coach and team who won last year's Pro12 as "ridiculous", the former Ireland and Lions captain said Leinster fans were being unrealistic about what the team can achieve after a number of high-profile departures in recent years.
And he said Saturday's Aviva Stadium clash is too close to call.
"Leinster's season has been very up and down. But they were 27-7 down at half-time (against Glasgow Warriors last week) and they came back and probably should have won it. The thing with Leinster is: yes, they've been up and down, but they're fifth in the Pro12 and in the knock-out stages of the Champions Cup.
"People are expecting huge things these days. Expectations are unrealistic at times, constantly demanding that high standard. But it's been okay. They're still in both competitions.
"The sign of a really good team is when you are able to win when you're not playing great," commented O'Driscoll in an interview with Rugby World. "The All Blacks have been so great for so many years because they still manage to see games through when they are off, a lot of the time.
"With Leinster, there was a change of coach last year, new philosophies, but we still won the league. It's ridiculous sometimes how that's not good enough. Fair enough, we got beaten by the eventual winners of Heineken Cup, as it was - we got beaten very well by Toulon. But it's very hard to maintain those very high standards, year in, year out.
"I think that the Leinster game is a very open game that either team could win," added O'Driscoll.