Leinster's forwards "licking their lips" at the prospect of facing the Bulls

football13 June 2024 07:47| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel
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Cian Healy © Gallo Images

Leinster’s forwards are “licking their lips” at the prospect of taking on the Vodacom Bulls this weekend as the two sides clash in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship semifinal at Loftus Versfeld.

Much has been made of the travel factor in the Irish media, but Cian Healy, Leinster’s most experienced forward with a massive 278 caps for the Irish province, believes that they can target the Bulls forwards and shut down their strong points if they are to get on top away from home.

Leinster’s lopsided experience surplus is something to behold. It is likely the club will field a team of more than 2500 caps when they take the field at Loftus and are widely regarded as favourites for the clash, even though the Bulls finished one log position higher than them in the URC.

The fact that Leinster have gone so long without success - losing three consecutive Champions’ Cup finals and two URC semifinals in the last three years makes them even more desperate to succeed, and anything less than a comprehensive victory will be seen as a failure back home.

“It’s a great test. Any forward should be licking their lips. it’s a proper physical test, you know?

“There’s not going to be many tip-on passes played from them I wouldn’t imagine, carries are going to go up the guts and it’ll be a bit of ‘me v you’ and that’s a great test for us, how we can band together and deal with that,” Healy said ahead of the game.

“We hit in twos and threes, break them down that way, and that’s a bit of a way where we’ll try and take their legs; constantly shut the door on them when they try and come down the neck,” added Healy.

“They’ll be physical up front; their scrum, maul and lineout are danger points in how they enter the game, if we can put a net over that, deal with it and let the backs do their thing and get involved as much as we can, I think that’s how we get into it.

“Shut out their scrum, shut out their maul and that will let us get on top a bit.”


Healy said his side’s experience in big games - this will be their sixth playoff match just this season - means they worked out what works under pressure and now is the time to perform.

“There’s a lot of time put into it, I suppose we’ve gone through all the big end-games, the quarters and semis and finals of the Champions Cup and when you’re tested at such a high end you start to find what really clicks properly for you,” Healy said.

“I think that’s been happening; lads are figuring things out a bit and getting to that comfortable point where you might feel as a loosehead that you’re getting an easier feel of what your tighthead is doing or what he needs.

“I think it’s time in the saddle under serious pressure is where you can produce some goods like that.”

And the fact that the team are away from home may work to their advantage as they have fallen short playing at home.

"We haven't been successful in the last couple of years so maybe it's something that's needed, I don't know," he said.

"A challenge on the road, a week spent together as a group where you live together and band in and do everything together. There's going to be some big positives from it."

But Healy was adamant that the key to the entire match is to not let the Bulls get dominance in the scrum.

"Their setpiece is very strong, it's probably the heartbeat of their game and what gets them going," he smiled.

"It's a huge test ahead to deal with that and assert our own set-piece on top of theirs."

Leinster will name their side for the clash on Friday.