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Nienaber outlines to-do list for Leinster's Euro double

The first hurdle has been overcome and Leinster will face Toulouse in a battle of the giants for the Champions Cup later this month, but they are far from where they need to be.

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That is if their defensive coach and former Springbok World Cup-winning coach Jacques Nienaber is to be believed.

Leinster still have some way to go to achieve their prized double of the Champions Cup and United Rugby Championship titles, something that has eluded them for the past few years.

But they are on track even though they recently lost the top spot in the URC to Glasgow Warriors.

There have been some jitters in their corner after they allowed Northampton Saints to come back from a big deficit near the end of their semifinal, but held on to win.

And while Nienaber knows the team can and will be better as the season goes on, the former Springbok coach has listed a few concerns.

“We showed there is definitely stuff that we can improve on in attack,” he said as the team turned their attention to the Ospreys and a chance of regaining top spot in the URC.

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“There is definitely some stuff that we can improve on in our kicking game. There is a lot of stuff we can improve on in our defence.

“There is a lot of stuff that we can improve on in our set-piece. I think we’re not the finished product at all.

“In fairness, when we reviewed the game with the players, they said, ‘There is a lot that we can get better at’. As a coaching group, we know that and as a playing group, we know that.

“We’ve got seven weeks until the end of the season and we’ve got seven weeks to make sure we get better at those things, but we’re not the finished product at all.”

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“Were there things that we could have done better? Yes. Were there things that we did well? Yes. The way we closed out the game in the last four minutes was good.

“I just think rugby is like life. There’s ebbs and flows. You’re not feeling brilliant every day for 50 years. Some days you feel down, some days you feel great.

“That’s life, and rugby is like life. Sometimes the momentum is going with you and sometimes it’s going against you. It’s just how you absorb that.

“There will be opportunities. If you don’t take them, they’ll punish you. It’s as simple as that.”

Nienaber said to expect a team like the Saints to simply roll over in a major semifinal wasn’t realistic

“I mean, has any team buried them (Northampton)?

“They’re not a team that gets put away quickly. They’re not top of the Premiership and scored the most Premiership tries for nothing.

“There were maybe opportunities that we had that we could have done better with. We looked at that and we have to fix that. So there’s a lot to fix from our side.

“Playing in a semifinal, you must get over the line and it’s not going to be perfect. That’s knockout rugby for you. There’s no bonus points for knockout, semis, finals. You just must do everything in your power to win.

“It’ll be the same when we go to the URC quarterfinals. This weekend, it’s still bonus points and points difference up for grabs – but in the knockouts, it’s purely just to win the game.”

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But the final is weeks away and this week is Ospreys, and Nienaber has turned his attention to getting the best out of the side in the URC where they are coming off two losses in South Africa.

It doesn’t get easier and Leinster still have the jitters of the last two seasons, but in Nienaber they have a cool head. And someone who knows how to navigate these situations.

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