Scarlets must bring their A-game to Aviva, says Rhys Patchell
Welsh side know they have to keep up stunning play against Leinster to reach final
Rhys Patchell of Scarlets scores a try against Glasgow Warriors in their Guinness Pro14 clash at Parc y Scarlets on April 7th. Photograph: Alex Davidson
Rhys Patchell has told Leinster the Scarlets will stick to their attacking guns and deliver their A-game in Saturday’s crunch Champions Cup semi-final at the Aviva Stadium.
Wayne Pivac’s men will arrive in Dublin for their first clash in Europe’s last four for 11 years confident they can ruin plans for an all-Irish final in Bilbao next month.
The Scarlets have played some stunning rugby this season, particularly against Bath and Toulon in the Champions Cup’s pool stages and in their quarter-final win over La Rochelle.
Playmaker Patchell knows his team will have to repeat that level of performance to down Leinster. He said: “Leinster are a side to be reckoned with and we are fully aware we must bring our A-game to the Aviva because we know they will be bringing theirs.
“They have a squad full of fantastic players, but what surprised teams in the last few weeks of last season was we really stuck to our guns and believed in the way we were playing.
“I am sure there will be little tweaks to the game plan, but by and large teams play the same all year round. It is potentially an incredible end to the season for us, but it could all come crashing down.
“It would be fantastic if we could reach the final, not just for the Scarlets but also for Welsh rugby. We are fully aware of just what an opportunity this is, but that’s all it is at the moment.”
Scarlets are Welsh rugby’s standard-bearers and are a hugely dangerous outfit as they also remain in contention to defend their Guinness Pro14 title which they won against Munster at the Aviva last season. Patchell is relishing the thought of what might yet be an historic double.
“These four-week periods don’t come along very often. It is exciting and if we get things right, it could be unbelievable,” he added. “The mantra is the same every week: get Monday right, Tuesday right and Wednesday right and then fire all of our bullets on Saturday.
Johnny Sexton is a fantastic rugby player with a lot of Lions tours behind him. You don’t do that unless you are very good at what you do
“When I went to sleep after the quarter-final it was a relief to get it over with because it was such a big build-up to that game with all the talk about reaching the semi-finals for the first time in 11 years. It was such a big deal and I was relieved we got it right on the day.
“You get excited about thinking about what could be, but I am very aware that every day until then counts.”
Patchell helped the Scarlets thrash Munster at the Aviva in last season’s Pro14 final, and his impressive domestic form saw him begin Wales’s Six Nations clashes with Scotland and England.
The 24-year-old is a certain starter against Leinster, either at out-half or full-back, and is most likely set for a duel with Ireland star Johnny Sexton to see who can take control at No 10.
“The Aviva is not the biggest capacity in world rugby, but there is a big wall of sound there. It is an exciting place to play,” Patchell said.
“Johnny Sexton is a fantastic rugby player with a lot of Lions tours behind him. You don’t do that unless you are very good at what you do. He is the fulcrum for what Leinster do, but they have a conveyor belt of talent. Everyone knows what is required of them when they play for Leinster, they all understand the system.
“There is a lot of talent, experience and quality in their squad. It doesn’t really matter who Leinster put on the field, they are always a formidable side.”