McQuilkin: “We Have to Match Toulon Physically”
December 9, 2015 12:00 am client
Ahead of the Champions Cup match against Toulon in Stade Félix Mayol, defence coach Kurt McQuilkin spoke about the importance of matching the French side’s physicality.
Leinster missed out on the opportunity for some vital preparation for this weekend’s game with Toulon when the Guinness PRO12 match against Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun was postponed due to an unplayable pitch.
However, Kurt McQuilkin prefers to look at the effects of Storm Desmond with a bit more positivity.
“We could’ve done with that run last week, but it wasn’t meant to be,” McQuilkin told the media in Leinster HQ.
“It would’ve helped us in that lead-in (to Toulon), but if you look at the flipside of the coin we’ve no injuries and everyone’s raring to go.”
Leinster head to Stade Félix Mayol to face a Toulon team that have scored 88 points in their last two games in the Top 14, including a 35-9 victory away to Clermont.
With Toulon in free-scoring form heading into the game, McQuilkin emphasised the importance of the squad working together and trusting each other in defence.
“You’ve got to stay as a collective and stay in the system, and believe in those in and around you. It’s a case of trying to take away their time and space and you can only do that as a collective.”
McQuilkin also referenced last season’s semi-final in Montpellier and the defensive gameplan which helped Leinster to bring the eventual champions to extra time.
“I think they took away their time and space. They got off the line defensively and really put them under pressure on their home track. They got a foothold in the game early on, which makes a difference. They didn’t let them get out of sight.
“Physically you have to match them at the very least, then hopefully bring your skill side of your game into it, and obviously a touch of fitness too. There’s different areas you need to get into to put a match to them, but I think first and foremost you’ve got to match their physicality.”
With preparations going well, McQuilkin is pleased by the improvements being made every day and is hoping this Sunday’s game will bring out the best in the squad.
“We’re improving every day. Every time we step out on the training field we’re improving; from a defensive point of view, getting used to the system, buying into the system. I think in the last couple of weeks we’re starting to look comfortable within our system, but it doesn’t mean we’re the finished product. There’s a lot more work to do.
“When you’re under the cosh and people don’t rate your chances I think that brings out the best in all Irish provinces, across the board. We’re hoping for one of those performances this weekend.”
Leinster face Toulon in Aviva Stadium on 19th December. Ticket sales for this game have passed 40,000. Purchase your tickets.