Stuart Lancaster: Leinster coach insists they do not have ‘unfair advantage’ over Leicester

Date published: May 3 2022 - Colin Newboult

Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster insists that they do not have an advantage over Leicester Tigers going into this weekend’s Champions Cup quarter-final.

Tigers boss Steve Borthwick claimed that the Irish province go into this weekend’s huge game with a fresh squad after they took a weakened outfit to South Africa.

A number of their top players were left at home as they secured top spot in the United Rugby Championship, despite succumbing to both the Sharks and Stormers.

In comparison, Leicester have consistently fielded strong sides in their run to the top of the Premiership, where they have won 18 of their 22 matches.

Big budgets

“Look at the size of their squad, the number of internationals in their squad and the nature of their league, it is very different,” Borthwick said.

“Compare that to where we are at, the Premiership is a fierce competition and we’ve had games we want to get results in and that’s what it is.

“We operate under a salary cap and limited squad size. Leaving one squad in South Africa and one in Ireland is a different situation.

“Look at France – their budgets are not that dissimilar to Leinster in terms of budget and caps and it is one of the challenges we need to get over.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to ask some questions of Leinster.”

Lancaster disagrees with Borthwick, however, and believes that Leicester could be more “battle-hardened” in comparison to Leinster.

“I’m not sure it is an advantage to be going to South Africa before a Champions Cup quarter-final, I’m not sure anyone would wish for that in their preparation,” the Leinster coach told reporters.

“Hence the decision we made because if we weren’t clear in the URC – and we earned that right by working so hard during the course of the season – then we might have made a different decision. But we are and we did.

“It’s played out that way and it means that we, you could argue, haven’t played since Connacht, and Leicester are battle-hardened and ready.

“When we look at the quality of Leicester every player is, or has been, an international player or will be in the likes of Jack van Poortvliet or Dan Kelly.

“(Nemani) Nadolo is an Fiji international, Freddie Steward is excellent. The list goes on, really. They’ve recruited really well and they have got good homegrown talent coming through.

“In the half-backs in particular, Ford and Youngs are both England players, as I know better than anyone. It will be a great matchup across the board but I don’t think we have an unfair advantage.

“It’s right up there, it’s one of the toughest challenges we have faced for sure on a variety of fronts and we’ll have to be at our best, for sure.”

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