Improved Leinster makes Young nervous
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young is wary of the threat posed by Leinster as the two teams prepare to meet in their European Rugby Champions Cup quarterfinal.
Young's men travel to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin for a mouth-watering last-eight tie against a team they thrashed twice in last season's pool stages. It is also a battle between the top teams in the Pro12 and the Premiership.
The English side put a total of 84 points on their Irish opposition across their two games, emerging 51-10 winners on home soil as they made it to the 2015-16 tournament's semifinals. A much closer contest is expected this weekend, with both teams leading their respective domestic competitions.
"We were in the semifinals last season and we know we've got a huge challenge going to Dublin to play against a formidable 23," Young told epcrugby.com. "Leinster aren't just a team of 15, their bench is going to be massive for them."
"They'll certainly be up for it, and we'll have to rise to the occasion and will need to put in a performance. We'll have to be at our best to go there get a result.
"If we can do that then we'll be into a semifinal and we're not too far away then. It is going to be a massive game."
Wasps have played some of the most enterprising rugby in Europe this season, but are on the road as the Champions Cup reaches its business end. They scored 28 tries to top their pool, while Leinster were the leading try scorers with 31.
"These are the games you want to be involved in. Leinster have come on leaps and bounds after what was, by their own admission, a bit of a transition time last season," added Young.
"But they were nowhere near as bad as people were making out. It was just that they weren't quite as successful as they usually are - most teams would settle for a slip for just one season.
"They've got real quality and their youngsters coming through have really stood up. Defensively they've got a lot more bite in them, set-piece wise they're strong, and they've got some clever, sharp options behind the scrum. We're going to be tested and we're expecting a different team to the one we faced last year."
Leinster will be without Irish internationals Jamie Heaslip and Rob Kearney for the last-eight clash due to injury. But Leo Cullen will also be able to bring back a host of men who were rested last weekend following their Six Nations exertions.
It has left Young, who has lost two European Cup semifinals in his coaching career - with Cardiff Blues in 2009 and Wasps last year - wary of what's to come.
"I'm impressed by the whole Leinster team. Their defence is a lot meaner, a lot tougher than in the past and their line speed is much better and they're aggressive in that area," said Young. "Emotion is only going to get you so far. It's up to us to make sure we want it just as much as they do."