Leinster are not afraid of ring rust as they attempt to take on a battle-hardened Leicester side in Saturday’s Champions Cup quarter-finals at Welford Road.
The Irish province sent a second team to South Africa while the star players stayed home as they charted their path to European glory.
In contrast, England leaders Leicester have sent strong sides on consecutive weekends, while Leinster have not played since beating Connacht three weeks ago.
“The obvious risk is that the team hasn’t played since Connacht,” said Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster.
“Obviously the challenge for me as a coach is to get that optimal point between preparing, both for the opponent and physically to prepare them for the game, because those are two different things.
“You saw Leicester over the weekend who fielded pretty much a full-strength team and dispatched Bristol fairly easily. This will toughen them up and get them ready.
“It was just a different scenario for us. We flew back from South Africa and that was our decision.
“One of the things I would fall back on though would be the Christmas period when we didn’t have games for three or four weeks because of this Covid break.
“It was a similar scenario because we hadn’t played and we did an insane amount of work in terms of contact and preparing for the game in training.
“But when we came back to play that game in Montpellier at the RDS and then went to Bath the lads who then went to camp with Wales were in really good form.
“So we know it can be done.”
Rónan Kelleher and Ryan Baird have returned to improve Leinster’s options ahead of a tie that reunites the 2009 finalists as Leinster won their first European title at Murrayfield by three points.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/champions-cup/stuart-lancaster-dismisses-ring-rust-fears-as-tigers-loom-41608426.html Stuart Lancaster dismisses fears of ring rust as Tigers emerge