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Schmidt fears Blues 'chasing tail' as big guns return

'CONTROLLING the controllables' is one of the stock phrases of any coach or player worth his weight in salt, never mind the solid gold value brought by Leinster coach Joe Schmidt and, possibly, his returning trio Brian O'Driscoll, Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald.

It was when Clermont Auvergne whipped Leinster's destiny right out of their hands at the Aviva Stadium before Christmas that a blow was struck for the contenders to the European champions' throne.

Leinster's fate will have to wait for another day, or two at most, as the near domestic business of the PRO12 League must be dealt with against Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Friday night.

It is not just in Europe that Leinster have to rely on the gifts of others in tandem with their own recovery of form and championship-winning mettle.

"There are teams who control us as opposed to us controlling our own destiny and, as well as that, we have to get some big wins and that is very difficult to do against good sides," said Schmidt.

It is also a stretch to weave players back into the systems and patterns without the proper time on the training field to prepare. Leinster do so in haste this week.

"We don't have a lot of time to get rhythm. We train Monday and Wednesday, have a Captain's Run on Thursday and quickly into the game on Friday night.

"We have to quickly take stock of that and then have three sessions to get ready for The Scarlets in the Heineken at The RDS. When you add it all up, we don't have a massive time component with which to prepare.

"This is further complicated by having guys like Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald who have played little or not at all, in Luke's case, this season."



Slot

In a way, Schmidt has few decisions to make. If O'Driscoll, Kearney and Fitzgerald are anywhere near 80pc, they will slot straight back in to the team.

The simple fact is that Andrew Conway and Fionn Carr have not taken their chances for one reason or another, both players showing defensive deficiencies that do not encourage Schmidt's full faith. The return of these three musketeers needed to happen before the festive period, not right on the brink of season-defining days in Europe.

"Unfortunately, it may have come a fraction too late. We are chasing our tail," Schmidt offered.

The temptation for Schmidt to take a peek around the PRO12 corner and see what is coming head-on at them in the Heineken is to see a necessity for ten points and two clubs hell bent on denying them.

But before that, Edinburgh must be taken seriously.