Monday 23 September 2019

Lancaster: Past performance no guarantee of final victory in Bilbao


Stuart Lancaster. Photo: Sportsfile
Stuart Lancaster. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Stuart Lancaster has warned his Leinster players that all their good work in getting them to Saturday's Champions Cup final will count for little if they don't perform against Racing 92 in Bilbao.

It has been a remarkable unbeaten run to the San Mamés Stadium for the province whose route to the final has seen them end the hopes of the English champions Exeter, PRO14 champions Scarlets and Champions Cup holders Saracens, as well as a Montpellier side who lead the Top 14 and a Glasgow team who finished top of their PRO14 conference by some distance.

The Irish side are hot favourites to lift the trophy for a fourth time, but their coach is not satisfied and warned that a drop off at the most important time of the season would mean the campaign to date will have been in vain.


"We've been unbeaten in this competition but we have lost some big games along the way (in the league)," he said.

"Part of the frustration for me is that we have not been as consistent across the board this season as I wanted us to be.

"That said, in Europe we have done well. The pain of last year, the lessons we learned about having more adaptability in our game and having more styles to play different opposition is important.

"So, we have definitely improved in that regard. But all that is irrelevant come Saturday because every game starts from zero.

"You have to earn the right; whether you've won your semi-final by a point... again I go back to Saracens, I think it was against Clermont in the semi-final, 2014...they won 46-6 at Twickenham and then lost against Toulon in the final.

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"So, what you've done in the semi-final is irrelevant, it's about what you do in the final."

Leinster will be without Fergus McFadden for the rest of the season due to a hamstring injury picked up against Scarlets, but Luke McGrath and Jordi Murphy are back for the final while Rhys Ruddock is in with a chance of making the bench.

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