Three consecutive losses in Europe has not seemed to diminish the confidence of Leinster’s Rob Kearney, with the Irish full-back claiming that while reigning Champions Cup holders Toulon will be tough to overcome this Saturday, they are indeed beatable.
Speaking ahead of Leinster’s critical return match at the Aviva Stadium with the star-studded French side, Kearney did not underestimate the size of the task ahead for Leinster, but acknowledged that his side will need to make better use of their opportunities if they are to avenge last weekend’s loss at the Stade Mayol.
Leinster were played off the park in the second-half with a lack of discipline costing Leo Cullen’s side heavily. The poor performances have prompted Kearney to call on the players to step up and be counted for ahead of their pivotal Round four tie.
“We’ve lost three on the bounce in Europe,” Kearney told the Irish Times.
“We’ve never done that before. It is an opportunity for people to step up too. We are in a tough time. There is a little bit of adversity there, in terms of the European performances. You need characters to stand up. There is big onus on us as players for the weekend.”
Kearney realises that Leinster are falling well below what is expected of them and acknowledged that it is frustrating to consistently underperform when there is genuine talent in the side.
“When you’re capable of a certain standard and you’re not producing, it is frustrating.
“If you are a mediocre team, and you’re playing mediocre, sometimes that can be a bit easier to take. When you’re not fulfilling what you have, the talents you have, it is frustrating. That is why it’s all about performance this week.”
“We do need to beat them, they are beatable.
“But they are hard to beat at the same time. I mean, you can go 15 or 20 phases against them and they will just back one of their poachers, just to get over a ball and steal. But there are opportunities against them and there will be more this weekend. We just need to take them.”
Opportunities were there for Leinster in last weekend’s tie, however the poor form of outhalf Johnny Sexton, the relentless lack of discipline and the failure of the forward pack to win their own set-piece cost the former champions.
Leinster’s European campaign hangs by a thread and anything other than a win on Saturday will eliminate them from this year’s tournament. The Blues will need a lot to go their way at the Aviva Stadium to prevail with a win but they can start by controlling their own game and there’s no better place to start than by taking advantage of their own opportunities and keeping their discipline.
Kearney may still have confidence in his side but the majority of us no longer do. However, as always it’s the players that’ll be out on the field, not us.
Jack O’Toole, Pundit Arena