Leinster boss Stuart Lancaster believes the introduction of the ‘heavier’ South African teams to the PRO14 will help the competition’s existing sides to better prepare for big European games.
The Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers are set to join an extended 16-team PRO Rugby competition later this year and Lancaster says they are exactly the opposition Leinster need in preparation for big, physical encounters in the European Champions Cup.
This assertion comes after Leinster were bundled out of the Champions Cup by French side La Rochelle, who produced a physically dominant display on their way to a shock semi-final win. In the previous two Champions Cup seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20), Leinster also struggled to deal with the power of Saracens, despite being a cut above the rest of the PRO14 teams.
‘Yeah, 100%. It’s exactly what we need,’ Lancaster said. ‘For us as a group, we need that different challenge, that heavier team to play against and to learn the lessons of the Saracens or La Rochelle, in this instance.
‘The trick for us at Leinster is to have those games [against the SA teams] when the internationals are available.
‘This coming season, for example, I’m hopeful there’ll be some Leinster players on the Lions tour. The season will start in late September, October time, before you know it there will be November internationals, a lot of the Leinster players will do that.
‘Then Christmas, then Six Nations and before you know it you are into the knockout stages of Europe, if you’ve got that far.’
Photo: Getty Images