Saturday 21 July 2018

Luke Fitzgerald believes little separates Leinster and Munster this weekend apart from the RDS and memories of 2011 derby

2CJ Stander, supported by Munster teammates Billy Holland, left, and Tommy ODonnell, right, is tackled by Jack McGrath of Leinster during the Guinness PRO14 Round 11 match between Munster and Leinster at Thomond Park last December
2CJ Stander, supported by Munster teammates Billy Holland, left, and Tommy ODonnell, right, is tackled by Jack McGrath of Leinster during the Guinness PRO14 Round 11 match between Munster and Leinster at Thomond Park last December

Michéal Ó Scainnal

Luke Fitzgerald said that there is less between Munster and Leinster than people think but Leo Cullen’s men should have enough ammunition to win the provinces’ PRO14 semi-final clash at the RDS this weekend.

Fitzgerald believes Saturday's clash would be looked on in a different light had the provinces met in Bilbao last weekend.

Speaking on the Independent.ie’s rugby podcast The Left Wing in association with Laya Healthcare, the former Leinster and Ireland winger feels the hosts will have the edge and home advantage will be crucial.

“The margins between success and being branded a loser are really tight,” he said.

“Fundamentally all of the provinces are doing a good job. Munster were very close. They could have been in that final with Leinster very easily and I think things look a lot differently then.”

“Leinster and Munster will really be a tight one, a really tight one.

“I’m going to go with Leinster. The people they're bringing in, I think they will make a few changes, I think will have enough in the bag to get it done. Home advantage will play in the RDS more than it would in the Aviva.”

Leinster travelled to Thomond Park earlier in the campaign and emerged victorious with a second string team. Even though he thinks Munster will be waiting for Leinster, that game in October is what is swaying Fitzgerald to a Leinster win.

“I think Munster will be really prepared and I think it’s going to be really tight one,” he said.

“I’m going to say four or five points but what’s guiding the decision is the win down in Thomond Park.

“I think Leinster have a bit of an edge slightly on them at the moment.”

Munster will be hoping that they can repeat their Magners League final performance of 2011 when they shocked Leinster just a week after Leo Cullen lifted the Heineken Cup ater a pulsating comeback win over Northampton.

Leinster were criticised at the time for celebrating their Heineken Cup success too heavily and missing out on a double.

Fitzgerald recalled that day remorsefully but said that Leinster will take motivation from that loss.

“I’m sure I wasn’t the only one sending a text saying ‘make sure now the lads are back on track as quick as possible’,” he added.

“They will be hurting badly from that, I know I was. I still think about it a bit because it was a great match but we just didn’t show. They played better than us on the day but we just let that go.

“We had the best team in Europe that year definitely so I think they're going to be ready.”

Subscribe to The Left Wing, Independent.ie's Rugby podcast in association with Laya Healthcare, with Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery for the best discussion and analysis each week. From in depth interviews with some of Irish rugby's biggest stars to unmatched insights into the provinces and the national team, The Left Wing has all your rugby needs covered.

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