Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Stuart Lancaster leans on 6 Nations experience in preparation for first taste of Leinster v Munster

The ex-England boss believes fixtures like these are the closest thing to international rugby.

LEINSTER SENIOR COACH Stuart Lancaster obviously brings a wealth of experience having been an international head coach for four years.

However, his rapid promotion to that post does mean there are some big parts of the professional rugby circuit that he has been able to enjoy at a safe distance from the coaches box – like intense local derbies.

While head coach Leo Cullen is steeped in the Leinster-Munster rivalry, Saturday will be Lancaster’s first chance to witness this inter-provincial clash in the flesh. So he is hoping that Six Nations experience can prepare him for the kind of intensity that will be on display at the Aviva Stadium.

“That intensity of having to deliver under pressure is what international rugby is all about. And I guess this is the thing that comes closest to it,” Lancaster said at Leinster’s UCD base, a year to the day since Bernard Foley and Australia hammered the nails into the coffin of his home World Cup dream.

“International rugby, especially the Six Nations, does have that derby feel. Whether coming to the Aviva to play Ireland, or going to the Millennium to play Wales or Scotland in Murrayfield; they feel like derby matches in their own right.

“In England, I’ve obviously been to a lot of Gloucester-Bath, Leicester-Northampton games, so I know what it feels like. I’ve not been to this game before, but I think it will be right up there. In fact, I know it will be right up there.

He added: “It will be the team on the day who can channel that emotion and play the most accurate rugby. Munster have certainly done that pretty well so far.”

Stuart Lancaster and Leo Cullen Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Like any modern coach, accuracy is a key theme in Lancaster’s approach when he speaks about adjustments to Leinster’s gameplan and culture. When it’s put to the Yorkshireman that the word ‘precision’ keeps coming up when players are asked about his methods, he’s undoubtedly pleased.

I’d like to think that’s what I’m trying to bring, that level of scrutiny in terms of training and reviewing training and understanding why the small things really matter. Because if you concede a try in the first few minutes it can be a long way back.”

“They’re a very coachable group. I made the point when I first came that they’ve been coached by some very good coaches in the past. So there’s a lot of knowledge that they have already.

“It’s not about trying to change everything, but tweak things a bit, to add my learnings from international rugby to the party and trying to help the team get better.”

- Reporting by Darren Cleary

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