Lions see Leinster as moment to ignite their Top 8 hopes

rugby18 April 2024 08:42| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel
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Jaque Fourie © Getty Images

The Emirates Lions may face an uphill battle against Vodacom United Rugby Championship log leaders Leinster but they are hoping to find form at home again to give them a chance of making the top eight and qualifying for next season’s Investec Champions Cup.

Defensive coach Jaque Fourie expanded on the attacking threats that Leinster possess, but wanted his side to express themselves as they wanted to use their altitude advantage on the Highveld to try and give them an edge.

While there are still uncertainties whether Leinster brought their stars or not, Fourie knows any team they face will be difficult.

“They will be well prepared and whichever team they field will be a big challenge for us,” he said.

“They identify the space very early and the way they get the ball into that space is impressive.If you give them those open spaces they will punish you.”

With the Lions having a slump in form, they need to find their mojo again soon and the hope is that being at home will do that.

“We were disappointing against Ospreys and Benneton but we are back home now and we needed to reset ourselves. There are no second chances and making the top eight is non-negotiable.

“To do that we need to win all our home games and we need consistency – in terms of how we want to play and what our brand is – we need to get that right every week.

“We know we need to win four out of the five games and the players know what we need to do to achieve that.”

Facing former Bok coach Jacques Nienaber, who is Leinster’s defence coach holds no fear for Fourie, who is more worried about smothering Leinster’s attacking threats.

“As a defence coach I know Leinster are probably the best attacking team in the competition and to measure ourselves against that is what we want to do,” he added.

“We also know that they have changed the way that they defend and focus more on defence these days. They have a very high line on defence and we did our homework on that as well.

“We know that they will score one or two crazy tries. That is in them. So we need to stay in structure and put them under pressure, because if you give them time and space, they will punish us.

“Leinster also have incredible depth and it doesn’t matter which Leinster team you play against, it will always be a good team.”

“I think the biggest danger is their unstructured attack and their decision making. They can identify the space very early and the way that they get the ball into that space is very impressive.

“They are a well-oiled machine and if you are going to give them those opportunities and open spaces they will get the ball there and they will punish you.”

Leinster’s second stringers beat the Lions 39-36 last season in a game the home side were kicking themselves for losing.

“If you have a look at the game we played last season, I think with 10 minutes to go we were still ahead and the second-string guys that they brought just came back and won that game,” said Fourie.

“They have such good depth in their squad, so it doesn’t matter what team they bring. Most of their second-string guys would walk into any other first team in this competition. So the squad they have got is really strong.”