Thursday 23 November 2017

Gibbes: Our fans drive us to victory

Leinster forwards coach mindful of Montpellier slip-up

FORWARDS coach Jono Gibbes is adamant that Leinster will show no complacency in their quest for a home quarter-final when they face French club Montpellier at The RDS on Saturday.

"It is pretty simple," he said, in the manner of a man who knows there are all the reasons in the world to stay focused.

"We are at home - that already raises the stakes to put in a performance - and the respect we have for Montpellier.

"We were pretty lucky to get away with a draw there."

Montpellier may be dead in these waters, but they showed enough resolve to crack Bath 24-22 on Saturday and they have not been badly buckled at Firhill (20-15) or The Recreation Ground (16-13) on their travels.

Gibbes said: "The results they've had from their away fixtures have been reasonably close, I would say seven or eight points, something like that. They have been really competitive. Last week, they got stuck into Bath."

Perhaps, like Connacht, as first-time competitors, they approached the Heineken Cup with an unusual measure of enthusiasm because they don't know when the opportunity may come around again.


This is a different test, though. Leinster edged Bath by five points away and axed them by 25 at the Aviva. They put 38 points on Glasgow in a 25-point win at the RDS, sneaking a four-point win in Firhill on Sunday.

Gibbes is convinced that the fervent support given to the club is a pillar of the way Leinster prepare for home matches. "I don't know how many people went to Firhill," he said.

"Mate, they made awesome noise. They've come down to Lansdowne Road to support us. The RDS is sold-out for Saturday.

"It is bloody important for us as a group that we put in a performance to show how grateful we are for the support we do get.

"It is one of the things I really like about rugby in the north -- their supporters. They're into the team. No matter who plays in it, it is their team.

"They take a real sense of ownership of it. It is really awesome. You don't really get that down the southern hemisphere.

"It is just culturally different. We've got fans in New Zealand, not necessarily supporters, if that makes sense."

Gibbes was quick to give his backing to Leinster lock Devin Toner and flanker Rhys Ruddock ahead of the Ireland Six Nations squad which was announced this afternoon.

"I don't think they would let down a green shirt if they got an opportunity," he said.

"Have they done enough? That is up to Declan. I know, working with those guys, we're really happy with the work they've put in, the improvements they're trying to bring.

"We can see that day-to-day. Declan probably gets to judge that on the weekends. Personally, I think they have progressed really well."

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