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Dublin: 7°C Wednesday 28 October 2020

'We're not going to go out and sign five or six overseas players'

Stuart Lancaster says the province won’t be ripping up their plans after defeat to Saracens.

THE 25-GAME winning streak is bookended by defeats to Saracens but Leinster don’t think they need to rip up their plans simply because they came out second best against one of the most successful European sides on those two occasions.

The post-mortem of Leinster’s defeat to Mark McCall’s men in the Champions Cup quarter-final has raged on outside their set-up in recent weeks, yet Stuart Lancaster gives the impression of a man who is sanguine about what it all means.

He feels the narrative about Irish teams being overpowered by their English counterparts isn’t accurate, while he dismisses concerns over Leinster players’ mentality after they failed to fire in the first half against Saracens.

caelan-doris-dejected-after-the-game Leinster's 2019/20 season finished in disappointment. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

And Lancaster doesn’t even begin to entertain suggestions that Leinster need to go out and spend big on overseas signings in the wake of the quarter-final failure.

With the new 2020/21 season looming on Friday night with a Guinness Pro14 encounter against the Dragons at the RDS, Lancaster remains optimistic about how Leinster’s future looks and says they won’t panic on the back of another loss to Sarries, even if it must be frustrating that they won’t get a chance to settle the score with McCall’s men as they drop into the Championship for a season. 

“There are too many people who I know well at Saracens, players and coaches, to say I’m glad to see the back of them,” said Lancaster. “I would never say that about Saracens.

“But we were talking about the Leinster model, if you like. Buying in talent and overseas players, there are certain clubs who will have their day in the sun in Europe, like Toulon a few years ago who competed for two or three years and got some European Cup wins which was amazing.

“But I think Leinster’s model is to always be there. And we can’t control what other teams do, but what we can control is making sure we are always there.

“We always want to be winning finals in Europe, we always want to be competing at the highest level, and I think our model leads us towards that.

“With Rob Kearney and Fergus McFadden finishing, some of the younger lads coming through now, they will develop that experience that you need to win.

“Sometimes you go through the pain of defeat along the way. I’m not saying you want that to happen but you look at Exeter reaching the final, they have had their fair share of pain along the way.

leinsters-assistant-coach-stuart-lancaster Lancaster is optimistic about Leinster's future. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“I just think we are in a really good place. We went 25 games unbeaten and played six [Champions Cup] pool games which were very tough.

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“We scored the most tries in the pool, 29 tries. And I actually looked back on the last four years, and I think we scored the most tries the year before in the pool, the year before that, we scored the most tries, and the year before that we scored the most tries.

“So, we’re there or thereabouts for sure and that’s where we need to be. I think with a young team and some of the experience we have developed over these last 12 months, particularly in the last few weeks, I think it will stand us well for the next year.

“We don’t have 130kg guys running around but we have to be able to win a dogfight and if a team is intent on slowing the game down and making it a set-piece game and with the referee’s interpretation of the new laws leading to less phases.

“But you’ve still got to find a way to win those games so I’m not saying we have to play running rugby all the time. We’ve just got to find the balance and the adaptability to do both and on the day we didn’t get that set-piece right in the first-half and that cost us.

“Leinster have got to be Leinster. We’re not going to go out and sign five or six overseas players. In the modern climate anyway, with the way that finances are being dictated this next 12, 24 months, the Leinster model is the one that I would want, personally, where you have homegrown talent coming through.

“You get your Toulons who had a great run and even Saracens you could argue have had a great run but they are in the Championship.”

both-teams-warm-up-at-an-empty-rds Leinster are back to business at the RDS on Friday night. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Lancaster welcomed the speed at which the 2020/21 season has come around after the defeat to Saracens. 

The visit of Dragons might not seem like the most exciting fixture but Lancaster points out that Dean Ryan’s side have signed the likes of Jamie Roberts and Nick Tompkins in recent months, while players of the quality of Ross Moriarty and Aaron Wainwright are still there.

Leinster have all of their Ireland internationals available for this Friday and next weekend’s visit to Benetton in Italy, meaning they will be naming strong teams for both fixtures.

“It’s a real positive because there’s nothing worse than being sat there and not being able to do anything about it,” says Lancaster of getting back to business so swiftly.

“The good thing is that we will pick a strong team for Dragons and we can put into practice the learning we took from that Saracens game. There was plenty of it.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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