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Tuesday 27 June 2017

O'Brien: our Young players won't be fazed by Clermont

Connacht 24 Leinster 37

15 April 2017; Leinster's Zane Kirchner, left, and Adam Byrne congratulate each other following their side's victory during the Guinness PRO12 Round 20 match between Connacht and Leinster at the Sportsground in Galway. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
15 April 2017; Leinster's Zane Kirchner, left, and Adam Byrne congratulate each other following their side's victory during the Guinness PRO12 Round 20 match between Connacht and Leinster at the Sportsground in Galway. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The weekend couldn't have panned out much better for Leinster. They secured a home semi-final with two rounds left on the PRO12 clock as The Ospreys fell to a heavy defeat against Cardiff Blues in The Principality Stadium.

Leinster finally put the ghost of last May to rest with a bonus-point win at champions Connacht.

Even more impressive is that they managed the feat with what amounted to the bulk of their second side.

It says everything about where Leinster are that they could afford to have many of their Champions Cup semi-finalists watching on with their feet up back home.

It leaves Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster free to come up with a solid plan to undo Clermont-Auvergne in Lyon next Sunday.

Memories

Certainly, veteran flanker Sean O'Brien knows what to expect as the two clubs renew their rivalry.

The memories are still fresh enough from the 2010 quarter-final, the back-to-back pool matches in 2011, the 2012 semi-final and the pre-Christmas pool matches the following season.

"I suppose the physicality is one of the things that I remember," said the Tullow Tank. "Any game you played against Clermont you would be hurting after it.

"Obviously, set piece is massive, especially away from home, and they are used to it, you know, in their competition week-in, week-out, in the scrum, in the line-out."

Records

This new fast-moving, wide-ranging Leinster have broken records in the PRO12 running up the most tries (86) and the most bonus-points for four or more tries scored (11) in the history of the competition.

Generally, it is watertight defences that win Europe's most glittering prize, not all-out attack.

There is also the prospect of Cullen looking to novices, at this level, like back rowers Jack Conan, Dan Leavy and utility back Joey Carbery in central roles.

"Yeah, it will be something different for them because you are going into a different environment over there," said O'Brien.

"I suppose we would help them out as best we can and mind them as best we ca,n the younger lads.

"I think they are full of confidence, so I don't think much will faze those lads."

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