Speaking ahead of Saturday’s Magners League clash in Parc y Scarlets, Leinster Defence Coach KURT McQUILKIN believes that the squad are in good shape for a big test against the Scarlets this weekend…

“The thing about facing a squad of the quality of Llanelli is that you have to be on top of your game to get a result. They are a class outfit and they will put it up to you, so it’s a test that we’re going to have face with great intensity.

“They’re a side that likes to play in your face. They come at you and have threats all over the park. Regan King is dangerous and their back three is very sharp. Simon Easterby brings great experience up front and is a proven international player, so we will need to be positive against them.

“We will take positives from last year’s away win in Stradey Park (24-10). The conditions that day were treacherous, with gusting wind and driving rain all evening, but we dug deep and our back and forward were faultless. Our defence was strong that day and we will need to have our ‘A’ game this week because we will also be mindful of our heavy defeat to them at the RDS last season.

“Llanelli supporters are a very proud bunch and they have a deep burning passion for the game. Parc y Scarlets looks to be a tremendous arena and I used to enjoy playing at the old Stradey venue. You could hear every comment, good and bad, and the crowd were right on top of you. Rupert Moon was a big character for them back then. Phil John, who only recently retired, was a talisman in the pack while their current coach Nigel Davies was also a very tough competitor.

“It can be a fairly disjointed period in the calendar (during the Six Nations), but we will welcome back some of the players from Ireland camp while a number of younger players will also be putting their hands up for selection. Some guys will see Saturday’s game as a chance to stake a claim and that’s the culture that Cheiks (Michael Cheika) has instilled in the squad over the last few years.

“It’s a good time in the year for players to recuperate and the guys are looking very sharp in training after their week off following the victory over Edinburgh. We’ve been able to do a lot of strength and conditioning work and the attitude of the players over the last few weeks has been first class.

“Having won the Magners League title last year we know that the title race will go right down to the wire. It’s vital that you take points out of every game from here on in. We will need to meet every challenge from here on in head on, be positive and don’t look too far ahead of ourselves.

“The players know that in a squad as competitive as ours, you have to be ready to step up to the mark and take any opportunity that comes their way. In terms of a mid-term report, I would say that we’re in a good place. Certainly compared to last year, we have improved and have achieved some new goals, namely in reaching the quarter finals of the Heineken Cup. So we’re going well, but we know that we can do a lot better.”