LEINSTER LOCK DAMIEN BROWNE concedes that Leinster may not be winning any style awards but feels his teammates are poised to pounce on any opponents that dare to drop their guard.
Having slogged their way to two tough wins out of two in Europe, the Heineken Cup champions return to Pro12 duty against a Cardiff Blues side that are in considerably worse shape.
The Welsh side have lost their last four games in succession and will not need reminding of their last visit to the RDs, last December, when they lost 52-9.
For now, Browne is happy to file the Heineken Cup pool stages as ‘decent star’.
He told TheScore, “You’re still in the group and it sets up a huge couple of weeks in December against Clermont. Overall I think everyone’s pretty happy to get the four points at the weekend and we’ll move back on now to the league.”
A miserly defence
Browne says the squad has taken confidence from the fact that they have only conceded one try in their last two games. He commented:
It felt very comfortable out there which it hasn’t been this season, so it’s nice to see that. In an away game (against Scarlets) we conceded 40 points earlier this season and they were scoring tries for fun against us, it’s nice to have that feeling.
“It was night and day compared to earlier on in the season over there.”
The Galway native is preparing himself for ‘a tough day at the office’ if he is selected in the Leinster pack and urges supporters not to take Cardiff’s two Heineken Cup loses as a sign of a permanent malaise.
“I think they were very unlucky to lose the first one against Sale,” he said, “and they did put in a good performance against Toulon. They’ve a huge squad and talent to burn there.
“I definitely think they’re improving. They’ve a new coaching staff as well there, they’ve lost a few senior players so there’s obviously been a bit of upheaval there for them. They’re definitely a dangerous side.”
Browne, having signed from Top 14 side Brive in the summer of 2011, played 21 times for Leinster in his first season and started the last Pro12 game B.B (Before Brad).
Thorn, the World Cup-winning All Black, won instant adulation for his abrasive performances in the lead-up to Heineken Cup number three and left a sizeable hole thereafter.
Browne has manfully stepped up and has started at lock in Leinster’s three wins over Munster, Exeter and Scarlets.
“There’s four of us there going for that other one position,” he said. “Obviously Leo Cullen’s the captain so he’ll be playing in these big games. From my point of view, it’s definitely something that’s in the back of my head.” Browne added:
I didn’t really know where I stood in the pecking order because there was a lot of chopping and changing in the second row earlier on in the season. They wanted to give everyone game time.
“It was great to get a nice three games in a row and a bit of consistency into your game when you’re playing week in, week out.”
*Additional reporting from Niall Kelly.