Sunday 19 November 2017

We haven’t gelled yet but we’re 80 minutes away from a good season – Jimmy Gopperth

Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

Jimmy Gopperth’s will end his final season with Leinster trophyless if they succumb to defeat in the south of France this Sunday.

The Kiwi, who leaves for Wasps at the end of the season, has been an ever-present in the Blues’ line-up this season and admits that this campaign has not lived up to the high standards at the province.

Toulon have not been beaten in Europe since their defeat at the hands of Biarritz in the 2012 Challenge Cup final and with Leinster realistically out of the Pro12 picture after their capitulation against the Dragons on Sunday, Gopperth knows that there is much more than a game on the line.

“We have been poor this year, we haven’t gelled together, we have been unfortunate with a lot of internationals coming and going, there have been a lot of disruptions but we have to be better than that and make the opportunities count,” he said

“It’s 80 minutes away from being either a good season or being a very, very good season.”

“We’re coming off some poor form at the moment and we’re coming up now against arguably the best club team in world rugby.

“We’re up for it, we’re going to go down there and give it our best.

“It was disappointing, 22-8 up after 50 odd minutes and then to lose it like that is very disappointing. We had a lot of guys missing and guys coming in for the first time in a while and it was a little disjointed.

“It’s different rugby now, it’s cup rugby. I think we’ve shown throughout the year, that our form has been better in Europe than it has been domestically.”

Matt O’Connor has taken a lot of the flak for Leinster’s indifferent form this year but Gopperth believes the responsibility should lie with the players.

“People are always going to question your ability, question why you’re doing things, if the team is not going well, the first thing they do is question the coaching but that has nothing to do about it,” he added

“They put in a perfect plan for us each week and it’s up to us to go and execute it.”

Leinster were dominated last year when beaten by the French giants and Gopperth believes the focus must be on defence.

“We got shown that if you don’t turn up and are ready to roll, they will put you to the sword. They are a fantastic outfit and they are going to be down there waiting for us to come.

“We’ve got to get out there with massive line speed and get in their faces and you got to get your one-on-ones or next minute they will have their hands through and they’ll be offloading and they’ll be 20 metres behind the gainline.

“We’re not getting into position early enough. When we’re good defensively, that’s what we do.

“It’s 80 minutes away, you could be in the final or you could be finished. They are huge guys, their forward pack is massive, their back row, Bastareaud in the centre... they’re huge men.

“We know that they leak a few tries, but the big thing is defence. They score a lot of tries and if you can really focus on your defence and make them not score and then take your opportunities, then you’ll be there or thereabouts.”

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