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Stuart Lancaster says South African opposition is ‘exactly’ what Leinster need


“We need that different challenge, that heavier team to play against and to learn the lessons of the Saracens or La Rochelle.”

Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster has agreed that his side need more competitive matches in the Guinness Pro14 in order to prepare for big European games.

The Pro14 champions were overpowered by La Rochelle in the Heineken Champions Cup semi-final on Sunday, as the French side’s superior physicality eventually ground down Leinster’s defence.

Lancaster was speaking at a press conference about the four South African sides that will join the Pro16 next season and admitted that Leinster could do with the added competition in the league.

Stuart Lancaster.

“Yeah, 100%. It’s exactly what we need.  The trick for us at Leinster is to have those games when the internationals are available,” Lancaster explained.

“One of the challenges we have here is [the international call-ups]. This coming season, for example, I’m hopeful there’ll be some Leinster players on the Lions tour. There’ll be Ireland [fixtures].

“The season will start in late September, October time, before you know it there will be November internationals, a lot of the Leinster players will do that.

“Then Christmas, then Six Nations and before you know it you are into the knockout stages of Europe, if you’ve got that far.

“For us as a group, we need that different challenge, that heavier team to play against and to learn the lessons of the Saracens or La Rochelle, in this instance.”

Stuart Lancaster: An awful lot of Leinster players are going to get better.

The Leinster coach acknowledged that his side were deservedly beaten by La Rochelle in their European heavyweight clash. But Lancaster rejected the notion that the team are in need of different personnel.

Several of the blues’ first-choice players were unavailable due to injury, with a couple more having recently returned from injury with little game time under their belts.

While Leinster won’t be adding a fifth start to their jersey at the end of this season, Lancaster had no concerns over their ability to compete for European glory in the years ahead.

“We’ve an unbelievable squad here.  If we’d one or two of the [injured] lads that were on the sideline that makes a difference as well,” Lancaster commented.

“Johnny Sexton, Caelan Doris, Will Connors, Dan Leavy Jamison Gibson-Park, Rhys Ruddock going off injured, good players. I’m still fundamentally confident in the direction that Leinster are going.

“When I look at the age-profile of the team. There are some lads coming to the end but there are an awful lot of lads in their mid-20s who are going to get better.

“For a team like Leinster, the model is the model, we’re very much based on a homegrown squad. We have one or two additions at the most, but I believe for long-term success, that’s the right model.”

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