After a win over Wasps in the RDS Arena last weekend, Leinster will travel to face Castres Olympique on Sunday in Stade Pierre-Antoine in Round 2 of the Champions Cup (KO 1pm Irish time, Live SKY Sports).

Marco Caputo knows all too well the threats posed by Castres having played in Stade Pierre-Antoine himself during his time with Clermont Auvergne. So far this season Castres have won three of their opening 10 games, but those three wins have all come at home where Castres are particularly strong.

“French teams are significantly better at home than they are on the road,” Caputo said speaking to the media in Leinster HQ this week.

“Castres have only won three matches, all of those matches they’ve won have been at home. One of those matches was against Grenoble, who are currently sitting 5th in the Top 14, and they put 50 points on them. I’d say Castres at this moment in time are probably a 20-point better side playing at home. We’ve previewed they’re performances both on the road and at home and it’s significantly evident that they are a much better team at home.”

Leinster have experience of Castres’ impressive home record. Leinster faced the Top 14 side in last season’s Heineken Cup and quickly found themselves 14 points behind after tries from Brice Dulin and Richie Gray. Leinster rallied and won the match 22-29, but until that game Castres were unbeaten at home for a full year. 

Caputo says the squad and management will be looking at last season’s match to prepare for this week.

“That match in particular at the Stade Antoine, Castres got off to a bit of a flyer – they got two quick tries after 10 minutes. We’re referencing that game as an example of what not to do, or what to do if you do find yourself in a similar scenario. What that game really did show us was how physical and how confrontational you do need to be against them. They came flying out of the blocks and I think our boys were caught off guard a little bit by the intensity of the match.”

Castres will pose a different challenge to the one Wasps brought to the RDS Arena last Sunday, and Caputo believes it’s important that Leinster are prepared and that they don’t give Castres the same head start they got the last time the two sides met.

Castres are a team that are extremely confrontational; they’re an aggressive team. We know that French teams, particularly when they’re playing at home, will come at us through their forwards, through their scrum, through their line-out, with their driving maul. The crowd comes into play if they get a little bit of ascendancy there, which brings the referee into play. It’s a completely different game that we’re preparing for, a different mindset. We’ve really got to roll up our sleeves, get our hands dirty this weekend and we’re preparing for a hugely confrontational game.”

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