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VIDEO: The 'mixture' that Leinster believes can do the double in South Africa

Leinster did not have long to celebrate their epic 40-13 Champions Cup quarterfinal win over two-time, now dethroned, champions Stade Rochelais at the weekend.

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While they did have some ‘nice-tasting’ post-match celebratory beverages, 48 hours after the tectonic triumph at a packed Lansdowne Road, a 30-man squad of Leinster’s finest headed to South Africa.

They face a determined, if erratic, Lions team at Ellis Park this coming Saturday, before heading down to Cape Town to tackle a far more dangerous Stormers team a week later.

Assistant coach Andrew Goodman said the two-match trip to South Africa is first and foremost on the minds of all those involved.

“Everyone is excited about the trip and having a successful tour,” the Ireland backline coach said ahead of the team’s departure from Dublin.

The New Zealand-born and schooled coach pointed to the congested United Rugby Championship standings as to why it is an “important” pilgrimage for them.

“It is going to be an amazing occasion,” he said.

(WATCH as Leinster assistant coach Andrew Goodman explains their plans for the two-match URC tour to South Africa….)

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Turning to the tour squad, he said it is a “mixture” of players who featured against Stade Rochelais and those who haven’t had game time in the last few weeks – without giving away too much detail.

“Everyone is aware of the importance of the two games – with Glasgow [on 49 points] five points behind us and the Bulls [in third place on 45] nine points behind.

“There is a lot of congestion behind that,” he said of Munster (43), Stormers (39), Benetton (37), Ospreys (35), Ulster (35), Edinburgh (34), Connacht (34) and Lions (34).

“We must keep winning and holding our standards high,” Goodman said.

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He added that getting the double on tour is vital, since they did not achieve that in the first two seasons – beating the Lions 39-36 and losing 7-62 to a fired-up Bulls team with an ‘Academy’ selection last year, while 2022 saw them suffer losses to the Sharks (23-28) and Stormers (13-20).

“That is a big focus for us,” Goodman said, adding: “There are a lot of hungry guys who have not played the last few weeks, while there are some guys who played at the weekend that will travel as well.

“We have a good mixture and looking forward to getting a good start in Johannesburg [against the Lions].

“Although we have one or two wins in the bank [ahead of the chasing pack], they can easily be taken away if the don’t keep winning.”

Goodman, who played for and captained the Tasman Mako in the National Provincial Championship, started his coaching career as head coach of Tasman in the NPC and assistant coach of the Crusaders in Super Rugby.

He is now an assistant coach at Leinster.

In December he was appointed backs coach for the Ireland national team, replacing former England player and Ireland coach Mike Catt.

Given that they have the Lions first up this weekend, the presumption is that Leinster will go hard in week one for a victory, utilising last Saturday’s replacements bench before tapering off for the second fixture against the Stormers.

Head coach Leo Cullen will remain in South Africa for the entire trip.

Last season he returned after week one to supervise strategic semifinal planning in Europe.

Goodman travels with the team for the first game and returns to Ireland.

Former Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber will return part way through the second week.

Hugo Keenan will miss Leinster’s two-week South African tour to the Lions and Stormers as he manages the hip injury which flared up last weekend and prompted his late withdrawal from his side’s Champions Cup quarterfinal win against La Rochelle.

@king365ed
@rugby365com

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