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Gibbes Steels Leinster For European Crusade

Gibbes Steels Leinster For European Crusade

Leinster forwards coach Jonno Gibbes will get his first taste of Heineken Cup rugby on Saturday when the province take on Edinburgh at Murrayfield, and he has been admittedly taken aback by the level of preparation involved.

The former All Black is eagerly awaiting Saturday’s Pool 2 opener against Edinburgh, particularly as it will give Leinster a chance to right the wrongs of of their previous Heineken Cup visits to Murrayfield and bounce back from their two Magners League defeats to Munster and Connacht.

Gibbes said: “The preparation that has been going on over the last few weeks (for Edinburgh) has been a real eye-opener for me because when you’re a player you don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes and you just turn up and train.

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“Now that I’ve been on the other side of the fence and have seen the detail that goes around these fixtures, it’s definitely another step up for sure.

“The games against Munster and Connacht are (played in) the domestic competition and with them there’s a routine of travel. From a logistics side of things, that’s what I’m alluding to.

“The close quarter contact areas have been quite physical, but I’d say that Edinburgh, up there, will be a completely different prospect again.

“There’s a lot riding on the first Heineken Cup round for all teams and we’re expecting a tough challenge there.”

Gibbes, who played under the likes of John Mitchell, Warren Gatland and Steve Hansen in New Zealand, knows the pain of losing as a player.

Looking on from the sideline, the former back rower insists that Leinster have ‘a few lessons’ to learn from their two recent league losses at the RDS and the Sportsground.

“You don’t get a lot of benefit from sweeping things under the carpet. A few decision-making areas will be addressed but in the natural process of things if you play on a Saturday, thoroughly review it (the game) on Monday and from Tuesday start looking forward.

“Losing is never a pleasant experience, and certainly not two weeks in-a-row. Maybe some of the mistakes were repeated which is disappointing.

“The mistakes are not major issues, but it’s about nailing a couple of little things which can have a domino effect,” he added.

“In the game of rugby there are a whole heap of little details that it takes to get the ball across the line.

“We made the same mistakes two weeks in-a-row. They’re pretty easy to identify because we’re pretty clear on how we want to play the game. Being slightly off the boil has made quite a big difference in each result.”

Back close to full-strength for the Edinburgh tie, Leinster know how crucial Saturday’s game will be in terms of their season on a whole and their European aspirations.

Gibbes wants to see a ruthless streak developing in Leinster’s play, particularly in the areas of ball-handling and contact work.

“I think that we have been pretty sound (in performance), but we haven’t been ruthless.

“So, whilst I don’t think that there’s a deficiency, I think we can be a little bit more ruthless with the ball into contact and maybe some of the micro-skills – with ball in hand – can be better.

“Controlling the authority of ball in contact is going to be a big area.”