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Tyrone Howe: Leinster must find another level if Tigers are to be tamed

We have become accustomed to Irish involvement in the latter stages of the Heineken Cup. It is an expectation that is becoming the norm in Leinster who face another Heineken superpower, the Leicester Tigers, at the Aviva stadium.

For Toby Flood and Ben Youngs, the memories will be fresh — and from an Irish point of view, one hopes that the scars will as well.

Few players get such an early shot at redemption, but for the Tigers halfback pairing, the opportunity comes early to put their England defeat to bed.

In his own words, Youngs played ‘like an idiot’ against Ireland. He is an incredible talent and one dodgy game does not change that indisputable fact.

It is a further test of composure under pressure and it would be ironic if Leicester’s big match temperament exceeded that of Martin Johnson’s team.

I have no doubt that it will and Joe Schmidt’s men know that they will be in for as physical and competitive a game as they have had all season.

Despite coming off second-best last week, the pulsating nature of Leinster’s defeat by Munster will serve Brian O’Driscoll and his team-mates well and provide the best preparation for Saturday’s game.

No room for any misplaced confidence, the players know that they have to improve and take their game to another level.

At least they have the comfort of returning ‘home’ for their Heineken Cup challenge. The perception that Leinster has a soft underbelly was consigned to history long ago.

Skill and heart in equal measure matched only by composure, honed through experience and the ability to rise to the occasion.

If there is a side that can win away from home, it is the Tigers, but I fancy Leinster to respond and have the Aviva rocking once more.

Belfast Telegraph


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