VIDEO: Leinster 'ambush' awaiting Stormers?
INTERVIEW: Leinster is determined to avoid a trip back to South Africa during the United Rugby Championship play-offs.
That is why they are desperate to get some points out of their Round 17 encounter with the Stormers this week.
Like any international competition, having the home ground advantage in the knockout stages is at a premium in the URC.
Leinster coach Leo Cullen said that their goal remains unchanged – ‘get enough points to finish top of the URC standings’.
They require two more points to ensure they finish top of the standings ahead of the play-offs.
(Article continues below video …)
“Once you have a top seeding, you get the home comforts,” he said of the challenge of facing the Stormers in a ‘one versus two’ encounter in Cape Town.
“We know where we sit and what we have to get from the last couple of games.”
After Saturday’s Round 17 match at the Green Point Track, they host Munster in an all-Irish derby in Dublin on May 21.
“For us, it is about working hard this week on our performance,” he added.
He said, having watched the Stormers but not having played against them, makes it a “unique” challenge for the touring Leinster squad.
“It will be a tough challenge, as they will be highly motivated for the game.
“The Stormers know they travel to Europe for their last league game,” he said about the Cape Town outfit’s trip to Llanelli and a March 21 encounter with the Scarlets.
“I am sure they will be keen to get as many points as they can out of this weekend’s game,” Cullen said.
He stated the obvious by describing the Stormers as a “very good” attacking team.
“[Evan] Roos at No.8 is a very dynamic ball carrier,” Cullen said, adding: “He gets through a lot of work.
“They have a strong scrum – with [Steven] Kitshoff and [Frans] Malherbe.
“Their mindset is to keep the ball alive, looking for space and offload.
“In many ways, it is like a Toulouse for us in Europe. You can’t switch off for a second.
“It is the attacking mentality they have, as well as the speed.”
With South African teams presenting a far more formidable challenge at home than what they first did when on tour in Europe in September and October last year, Cullen admitted teams will have to revisit their planning for trips to the Republic.
“It is a very unusual challenge,” he said of the balancing act of planning for the build-up to and play-offs of the European Cup and URC competitions.
“We are trying to embrace that,” Cullen added.
“Some players have had an amazing experience just being here in South Africa.
“We didn’t win last week, but there were plenty of learnings from the game and hopefully a lot of the players involved in the game will be better for the experience.”
He described it as an “amazing challenge” shifting focus between the two competitions.