Schmidt not taking Edinburgh lightly
Rugby:Leinster coach Joe Schmidt has no doubts over the size of the task facing his side in Edinburgh on Friday night but he is confident they remain well placed for a top-four finish in the PRO12.
Leinster (sixth) have won their last four encounters with Edinburgh (12th), and have won on three of their last four visits to Murrayfield, but traditionally it has been a tough venue for the European champions. Despite ending a three-game losing streak with a 17-0 win over Connacht on Saturday, Schmidt is taking nothing for granted.
"We know from experience how difficult it is to win over in Edinburgh,” said the Kiwi. “A lot of our players have played under Michael (Bradley) at different levels for Connacht, the Wolfhounds or with the Ireland senior squad when he took interim charge a few years back - and all speak highly of him.
"Edinburgh will be keen to get back to winning ways after their narrow defeats to Glasgow over the Christmas period and they showed real character to come back and almost snatch the win last weekend after Glasgow got away to a flying start.
"Games between ourselves and Edinburgh are always tight affairs. We narrowly beat them earlier in the campaign in the RDS (22-16) and it was nip-and-tuck last season over in Murrayfield when we managed to come out on the right side of a contest that see-sawed right up until the finish (28-36).
"They have a big abrasive set of forwards and proven international performers throughout. With a player like Tim Visser in their ranks, who is racing clear at the top of the try-scoring charts again this year, we can't afford any defensive lapses. Greig Laidlaw controls the game for them at either scrum-half or outhalf and they have a number of very effective ball carriers led by the likes of Dave Denton and Netani Talei.”
The new year continues to look good for Leinster on the injury front as Schmidt continues to welcome back some of his most experienced senior players ahead of the vital final two rounds of the Heineken Cup pool stages.The Leinster squad trained in UCD yesterday afternoon, with a number of internationals expected to return to the fray. Schmidt is hopeful that long-term absentees Brian O'Driscoll, Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald will be in contention as they make positive strides in their respective rehabilitation programmes.
International hooker Richardt Strauss is expected to return to the fray over the coming weeks and Shane Jennings, who was a late withdrawal from Saturday’s victory over Connacht due to illness, is expected to return.