Leinster assistant coach Felipe Contepomi says his side would not make the mistake of underestimating Ulster in their PRO14 final showdown in Dublin on Saturday.
Leinster are unbeaten this season and are odds-on favourites to defend their PRO14 title in the final this weekend, but Contepomi is wary of their opposition and believes they need to heed the lessons of just how dangerous Ulster can be.
‘You always want to win and win trophies. It’s great we are in this position. But we know how hard it is to win silverware. Particularly, when we are preparing to take on a very good side in Ulster. It’s great to be in the place where we are,’ Contepomi said.
‘They are a very dangerous team. It’s not only taking the lessons of what we’ve seen last weekend. I think they’ve been building into one of the best teams, definitely in this competition, and one of the best in Europe over the last couple of years.
‘We have taken lessons on them from their performance in the Champions Cup quarter-final last year. We have taken lessons from them from when we played them two weeks ago. We are always studying them because they are a very dangerous team.
‘They are only the second team to win a semi-final away from home, and that speaks hugely of them. And the way they won it, I’m sure they are on a high.
‘They are building something special themselves. We are taking that all into account to prepare the best we can for a very difficult and good team.’
Contepomi added that he hoped the final would be more open, and not the box-kicking fest that the semi-final against Munster became.
‘We always can be better. Even when we play good games, there is always big parts to improve. In terms of attack, yeah, sometimes there are games which are proposed in certain way. What we need to learn, to take is not to get dragged into a game of [a] contestable box-kicks fest. There has to be more space.
‘Actually, when you analyse the game, we didn’t have much time with the ball but the time we had, we had some good attacks.’
Contepomi believes the breakdown laws are partly to blame for teams adopting a low risk, kicking approach.
‘The new interpretation of the law, it’s posing those questions of the risk-reward, how much you play, how much you can play. Sometimes I think we’ll find more teams that come with tactics like Munster used against us last Friday.
‘We can’t control that, it’s their tactics. What we can do is how we deal with those tactics a bit better and take teams to the comfort zone or where we feel more comfortable, as you say playing a more expansive sort of game.
‘But if you see a normal game where you have 38 or 39 minutes ball in play and this game had 32 or 33, so it was a very stopped game and very chess-like.
‘We need to learn to deal with them and sometimes you need to just go and win those games and keep preparing and performing for the type of game you want when you can impose your type of game.’
Photo: Getty Images