‘Saracens are a quality team of big-game players’ – McBryde
September 15, 2020 3:39 pm Ryan Corry
With the Guinness PRO14 title sealed, Leinster Rugby’s attention now turns to the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracen this Saturday at Aviva Stadium (KO 3pm).
Fresh from winning his first honour with the province, Assistant Coach Robin McBryde quickly wants to turn the page as he weighs up the challenge of a Saracens side that have won three Champions Cup titles in the last four seasons.
“It’s a warning and a motivation,” says McBryde. “You want to right the wrongs of the past but it’s also a warning that you’re up against a quality team, a team that’s used to winning away from home, a team that’s used to winning big championships, with big-game players who are vastly-experienced and are very well-coached.
“If anything, it’s putting us on our guard a little bit more. We know that last Saturday we didn’t get certain areas right, the lineout in particular, so we’re going to have to improve on that performance. It’s a step up.”
One threat in particular that McBryde pinpointed was England international Maro Itoje.
Itoje, who can play in the second row or as a flanker, was the youngest travelling player in the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand and is also a former European Player of the Year.
“He’s very disruptive and that’s an area of the game he prides himself on with regards to getting into the minds of the opposition and being that nuisance.
“You are going to have to be at your best, aren’t you? He certainly keeps you on your guard,” McBryde adds.
“You can’t ignore the threat that he poses in everything that he does. He is just relentless in his ability to spoil any quality possession from the lineout, he is coming through the back of mauls and putting pressure on scrum-halves.
“At the breakdown, he’s pulling and tugging. Again, he’s one of those players you can’t ignore.
“You’ve got to make players aware, but even that is sometimes not enough because he’s so good at what he does. He’s one of their big players and definitely someone we have to keep as quiet as we can.”