FORMER LEINSTER HOOKER, Bernard Jackman, has warned that the Pro12′s top seeds must have the height of respect for the Glasgow Warriors at the RDS this Saturday.
The semi-final will be the fifth meeting between the sides this season with Glasgow enjoying one win and a draw in league action while Leinster claimed nine points from two Heineken Cup pool meetings.
Despite the eastern province blowing their opposition away when Glasgow last visited Dublin, Jackman has cautioned that the prospect of playing one extra game for the Warriors could summon the necessary motivation to give the visitors an advantage in the contact zone.
“Glasgow have a chance.” Jackman argued “They won the won the ‘collision kings’ at the RaboDirect awards last week because of their defence and breakdown work.
“They’re not a team of stars. They’re losing their best player Richie Gray in the summer. Sean Lineen has been there for eight years, he’s leaving. So sometimes, emotionally, that helps a team really want to finish on a high.”
However, Jackman still feels that Leinster’s form in both league and European Cup is enough to prove they have the ability to mix and match the right players for the right occasion.
“Leinster got out in front of the Pr012 at the start of the season so they could have a home draw, so they could manage their resources.
“They’ve got their rewards for that with a home semi-final so you would have to think that they’re good enough no matter what side they pick. I expect them to pick half and half: half the Heineken Cup team and the rest on the bench.
“You have to fancy them to do the job and get to the final.”
A week out from the Heineken Cup final, Leinster must summon a mood for a dogfight of knock-out rugby while a tanned Ulster group bounce off the plane from a warm weather training camp in Portugal.
Like Ulster, the Warriors pride themselves on using the line-out as a weapon and that particular set-piece has has been an area for concern for Leinster, a rare weakness in an otherwise irresistible force.
“It’s surprising because Leo (Cullen) is a very good caller,” said the hooker, “himself and Paul O’Connell are the best in the country – and (Richardt) Strauss is a very good thrower. It’s just for some reason he’s had some blips over the last three high-profile games.
“Obviously Ulster (and Glasgow) will target the line-out and try to put huge pressure on Leinster, but you have to think; sometimes when you work really hard on it, it becomes a strength.
“If you look at the line-outs they lost against Clermont: there were two not straight; but there was one where Brad Thorn seemed to miss the movement, and another one that Jamie Heaslip started a lift (hesitated), then thought he got the wrong call, and missed it.
“Suddenly, instead of having two (throwing errors) you lose four (line-outs) and it becomes an issue and it was a key moment in the game.”
Key moments which Gray and Ali Kellock will be eagerly anticipating.
Heineken Cup winners Bernard Jackman (Leinster) and Andy Ward (Ulster) were in Dublin to officially launch Heineken Star Saturday taking place this May 19.
YouTube credit: HeinekenIRE
Heineken invites rugby and soccer fans to enjoy the UEFA Champions League final and the Heineken Cup finals in the pub – the best stadium on earth. For participating Heineken Star Saturday venues across Ireland check out: www.heineken.ie/starsaturday