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Leinster promise 'a different game' when English stars visit Aviva with Saracens

Six of the 23 who helped England trounce Ireland will be on duty with Saracens in the Champions Cup quarter-final.

Sexton carries and prepares to offload to James Lowe during the European Cup final last year.
Sexton carries and prepares to offload to James Lowe during the European Cup final last year.
Image: Andrew Fosker/INPHO

THREE STRAIGHT AND rather heavy Irish losses to an England side with a strong Saracens influence will have little bearing the hotly-anticipated Champions Cup quarter final, insists Felipe Contepomi.

The English dominance over Ireland across the past 13 months appears all the more stark if you expand the filter out to include Saracens clashes with Leinster and Munster.

Leinster, who supplied eight of the starting team for Sunday’s loss in Twickenham, were defeated in the Champions Cup final by the English champions after Munster were overpowered at the semi-final stage. This season the southern province managed the only Irish win in such fixtures as Mark McCall sent a second string side to Thomond Park.

The results in isolation do not bode well for Leinster’s clash with the already-relegated side on 4 April at the Aviva Stadium, but backs coach Contepomi argues that there will be enough change in personnel and approach to ensure the contest is very different.

“They’re not the same. They’re not the same players,” says the Argentine, “England started the first three movements with (Manu) Tuilagi. He won’t be on the pitch. Sarries, they use Vunipola – I don’t know if he will be there.

If we think we might have a different gameplan, it is not the same.”

Different, but there is no escaping the similar aspects of the rivalry when there were so many players from each side involved in the one-way traffic of Sunday’s Six Nations meeting.

Contepomi cites the performance of James Ryan, Ronan Kelleher and Caelan Doris as reasons to be confident that Leinster won’t be overpowered and hopes coaches and players alike can pick up lessons even from chastening defeats.

“We have some personnel in both teams that play for Leinster and Saracens and they have their own experiences and learning experiences as well.

“You can definitely learn from those games, but England and Ireland are not Leinster and Saracens. I know what you mean, we have many players – both sides – playing for their countries, but it’s still a different game. A different scenario and situation.

“We can learn a lot from the game, but it will be a different game.”

He adds: “Physicality – every game is different and it (depends) also on how you prepare the game, how you start the game, how you’re set up for those games.

“Then I can’t see why the Irish players can’t be as physical as the English. I think they are.

“It’s about preparing gameplan, game management and there are loads of things to consider, not only the physicality.”

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Sean Farrell

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