Michael Cheika yesterday moved quickly to inject some much-needed pragmatism into his Leinster side’s Heineken Cup build-up by acknowledging his side’s ongoing battle against infuriating inconsistency.
While upcoming opponents Leicester, those perennial cup kings, plot their way towards a league and cup double, Cheika’s men face into what most perceive to be a largely academic brace of Magners League matches.
For the coach, though, Leinster’s approach to their final two games can act as an accurate barometer to their health entering into the May 23 Murrayfield showdown.
“We know if we want to perform in the final we can’t just turn it on the week before,” says Cheika.
“If you think back, we’re only two games away from the way we played in Edinburgh, which was poor for one half, especially defensively.
“So we’re not kidding ourselves that there are going to be some troughs during the three-week period in the build-up. We’ll have some things to work on internally to keep the focus for improvement, although you don’t always get it.
“But the maturity of the playing group counts for a lot, they understand how to get themselves prepared mentally for each game. We need to play good football for ourselves and not for the situation per se.
“It’s great we have the chance to be there. But if we lose the final, it’s the same as missing out in your pool. You still haven’t got the trophy. We always like to think we’re developing, even last year when we didn’t get out of the pool.
“But when it comes to the actual achievement of winning the prize, we have won nothing.”