Hines fully aware of the scale of the task
When he left he knew there was one certainty, one path his career would take him and that was straight back to Leinster. One of life’s verities in rugby is that you always meet the team you have just left and always in a pivotal match.
Last year it was the Heineken Cup semi-final. This year it’s the pool stages and the former Leinster secondrow doesn’t bat an eyelid. It was written in tablets of stone and brought down from the mountain. There are no longer any surprises for Clermont’s former League player from Wagga Wagga.
Clermont were slow to start last week. And while Hines knows that “Leinster can set the world on fire” the dynamics of back-to-back matches may usher the pressure on to the home team.
As always in such matches it’s a balancing act between absorbing the must-do heat of scoring tries and building expectation with the sweet familiarity of the Aviva Stadium and the energy gained from 45,000 people shouting the name of the home team.
“There’s a lot of pressure on Leinster now,” he says – and what else would he say?
“We won our home game and they need to win theirs. The same thing happened two years ago. Leinster lost here and then pretty much ran away with the game 24-8, I think it was. That’s the kind of team you’re dealing with. When you are playing against the Champions of Europe, they can turn up on a day and wipe the floor with you. That’s the quality.”
Hines is not one to rush in and to bait his former team -mates in any way he knows is foolishness. Flattery, or at least heartfelt respect is generally a better play. While his intelligence on the Leinster players would appear to be a valuable for this week’s work, his instincts are that he may be too close to the Leinster players after his 2009-11 Dublin stretch. It’s an interesting twist on an age-old issue.
“Look at our team and there are some pretty experienced guys. The problem may be with me,” he says. “I might be too close to it and I might not see things other people can because they are objective. I think it’s the same principles for any game. It’s about receiving pressure and putting pressure on. In the second half this week we put too much pressure on our selves.”
“Yes we can win (in Dublin) yeah. Sometimes you can play badly and win. But we could play well and they could beat us. I’m confident we can put in a good performance and that will give us a great opportunity to win. Last week I thought sometimes we let ourselves down, could have kept the ball a little bit more, made a couple of mistakes, knock-ons and stuff.