Michael Cheika’s Harlequins v Leinster Preview…
April 8, 2009 12:00 am client
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s Heineken Cup Quarter Final against Harlequins, Leinster Coach MICHAEL CHEIKA said that the squad are ready for a physical encounter against a side he has great respect for…
“Obviously it’s a big week in our calendar and a match that we have been looking forward to since January and we started our preparation out yesterday (Tuesday) with a bit nervousness, but we built up a bit better and stronger today (Wednesday) and hopefully we’ll keep building until Sunday.
“CJ (van der Linde) is not going to make it this week. His injury is slightly different to the previous one. It’s the same type of area, but it’s not as serious. We’re hoping that within a couple of weeks he might make his return.
“Preparation isn’t any more difficult (after the Munster defeat). There’s the disappointment factor that you have to leave behind, but you must ensure that you take the failings from our performance down in Thomond Park and improve them because we’re going into a very similar environment.
“It’s a big game in someone else’s arena, so we’ve got to make sure that we take stock of the failings that we may have had and add them to the positive things that we had in that game and take that to London.
“It’s very important for us to keep a very strong concentration on our own performance and not worry about the extra factors. We have been in this position before and we’ve got to use that experience to make sure we’re very focused on the day, not so much (worry) about what Harlequins are going to do.
“They’re a very good team. They have shown that in their position in the Premiership which is justifying exactly how they’ve played over the last season, particularly over the last three months where they have gone on a great run. It’s going to be a big test for us over there because playing away from home any time in Europe is difficult.
“We understand that the focus is ourselves and we can’t allow factors like – where we’re playing or their form there – to enter our heads.
“They have lots of pace all over the park; at 9, 10, centres, wings, full back, backrow… They have a very strong back-row and if you play into them then you’re playing into a very strong area. I would say they’re a very underestimated tight five. I have watched a number of their games and their tight five has been impeccable in my opinion.
“They played in Bath last weekend and their coach obviously said to them, ‘this is the kind of pack that everyone in England measures themselves against, so go and get ’em’.
“They have an impressive ability to play in different parts of the field with a lot of brains in the middle of the field in (Nick) Easter, (Danny) Care and (Nick) Evans and a lot of grunt up front. You’ve got to play well to beat that.
“We recruited this group to have this level of depth, so I’m not going to complain about making a hard (selection) decision. Someone’s going to have to miss out, but everyone understands what the greater project is for the team. Even though there’ll be some disappointment, they’ll be right behind the team on Sunday and will look to take whatever opportunities might come their way.
“Brian (O’Driscoll) trained pretty well today and he has a good chance of being fit. Luke (Fitzgerald) was only partially in training today, so we’ll make a final decision on him on Friday. Bernard (Jackman) hasn’t trained this week and he’s probably more of a doubt than the others. We’ll check him on Friday and assess exactly where he’s at with his swollen knee and make a decision then. Our medical staff is working around the clock to try to take down some of the swelling which is unrelated to his other injury.
“Ollie (le Roux) has a lot of experience. He knows our system and he certainly doesn’t lack confidence, so I’m sure, if we decide to put him into the fray that he will be more than capable of fulfilling the role that I might ask him to fill.”