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Tuesday 26 September 2017

Schmidt: We must roll up our sleeves

COACH Joe Schmidt has hinted that Leinster may move back to their all-court game to be effective against the Cardiff Blues in the PRO12 League clash in Wales on Saturday evening.

"It is a different thing than a derby game. It is a different surface," he said.

The Cardiff City soccer stadium is sure to provide a smoother turf in a more sheltered arena for Schmidt than that of the stamina-sapping, heavy sod at the Sportsground in Galway.

"I wouldn't say I am overly worried about the Connacht performance. We have got the ability to remedy some of the shortcomings. But, we are going to have to roll our sleeves up."



Ace

He can say that again -- and he will through the week. While Cardiff are one slot away from the top four, they do hold the ace card of a game-in-hand on all those above them.

However, the timely intervention of Ireland's Tommy Bowe was the difference between four points and a losing one against the Ospreys at The Liberty Stadium on Sunday.

"They are a really tough side. They've got a lot of Kiwis there that I know pretty well. I coached Xavier Rush for a few seasons at the Auckland Blues. He is a pretty dynamic player for them," touted Schmidt.

"Their front row is combative. The second row, with Brad Davies and Paul Tito, is very good. You go into the back where I would imagine Sam Warburton will start against us because he was on the bench against the Ospreys.

"Then, you get out the backline. The half-backs have played for Wales, with Ceri Sweeney being preferred to Scotland's Dan Parks lately," he added.

"If Parks does get the call, he will not miss his kicks that Connacht did. The list goes on. They have Casey Laulala, Leigh Halfpenny and Alex Cuthbert across the three-quarter line."

There could even be the tanned presence of Wales glamour boy Gavin Henson, who returned to his old club, the Ospreys, as full-back for his new side.

It is just as well that Leinster will probably introduce a clutch of front-liners for what is sure to be an interesting forerunner to the Six Nations opener between Ireland and Wales on February 5.

For the moment, however, club action takes precedence over country and Leinster will be looking to stretch their lead at the head of the PRO12 League by making it 14 unbeaten on Saturday.

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