Stephen Ferris has backed Leinster to ‘do a job’ on Saracens in their Champions Cup quarter-final showdown at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
einster enter the game with a 23-game winning streak in the 2019/20 campaign, and 25 games in total dating back to their last defeat against the English side in the 2019 Champions Cup final in Newcastle.
Making the game more intriguing on Saturday is that Saracens won’t be competing in Europe’s premier club competition for the next two seasons following their relegation to the Championship due to salary cap violations. Already, a number of high-profile names have left the club, and Saracens are down seven starters from the team that defeated Leo Cullen’s side to claim their third Champions Cup in four years last May.
Speaking on The Left Wing, Independent.ie’s rugby podcast, Ferris tipped Leinster to continue their winning run and atone for their loss in last season’s decider.
“There might be a bit of danger but I don’t think complacency exists in this Leinster team,” Ferris said.
“The last team to beat Leinster was Saracens and I feel there is an element of revenge that will be talked about this week. Everyone thinks there will be a couple of points in it, but for me, I think Leinster can win this game comfortably if they get their noses in front. They are demoralising teams at the minute, where they get a ten point lead and then they kick the ball to teams and invite them to play and just keep tackling them all day.”
“The bookies have the game at nine points, and I think Leinster will beat that,” he continued. “Not many people will agree with me. I’ve watched Leinster and Saracens a lot over the last few weeks and I just think when Leinster are fully loaded, I can’t see Saracens beating them. Having no crowd will be a bit of a leveller, but I think Leinster will do a job on them.”
The tactical battle is sure to be fascinating at the Aviva Stadium, and Ferris reckons that Saracens might adopt a similar approach that Munster brought to the PRO14 semi-final against Leinster. The Ulster and Ireland legend thinks that the English giants will look go to the box-kick early and often in an attempt to get on top of the freshly crowned PRO14 champions.
“I was speaking to Jonny Bell, the former defence coach at Gloucester, and he thinks Saracens will be very similar to Munster and just kick the leather off the ball and try to force Leinster into making mistakes,” Ferris said.
“If they get those opportunities that JJ Hanrahan missed, they will back themselves to nail them and make it a close game with ten minutes left on the clock. Personally, Munster got absolutely hammered for the way that they played but they were in with a chance of winning it if weren’t for those kicks. That is the reality of it.”