Heineken Cup: Leinster’s Schmidt wary of Ferris threat
Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt pinpoints flanker Stephen Ferris as Ulster's biggest threat ahead of the Heineken Cup final
Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt admits he is wary of the threat Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris carries ahead of the all-Irish Heineken Cup final against Ulster on Saturday.
Schmidt’s team are looking to be the first ever team to retain the Heineken Cup when they line up at Twickenham after beating Clermont Auvergne 19-15 in the semi-final.
Ireland Six Nations stars Jonathan Sexton, Brian O’Driscoll and Sean O’Brien among others will face up for Leinster against countrymen Ferris, Rory Best and Andrew Trimble.
And it is 26-year-old Ferris who Schmidt is most concerned about and insisted his team would have to be at their best to contain the Ulsterman and his teammates.
“He makes a big impact every time he plays, which tends now to be in the major matches,” he said.
“He is a complete player and gives Ulster options. We know the size of the challenge we face.
“We know we are going to have to measure up against Ulster, a team we know very well.
“A number of players from both sides know each other well and, while we will be the favourites as holders, last year’s final showed that tag does not mean anything.
“Ulster showed in their semi-final that they are good at putting opponents under pressure and they are strong up front, resourceful in the lineout and they have Ruan Pienaar at scrum-half.”
Despite Ireland’s disappointing Six Nations campaign the European final has a distinctly Irish flavour once again.
And Schmidt was at a loss to explain why the country – whose teams have won three of the last four Heineken Cup finals – weren’t also dominating the international arena.
“I do not have a reason why the form of the Irish provinces in the Heineken Cup has not been repeated in the last few Six Nations,” Schmidt added.
“There is some great quality in the country and the provinces certainly have good player management.”