McCusker backs Scarlets to end Leinster reign

Wales forward Rob McCusker insists the Scarlets can dump reigning champions Leinster out of Europe.

Joe Schmidt’s men are eight points adrift of Clermont Auvergne in Pool Five and must secure victory over the Welsh outfit on Saturday, and against Exeter Chiefs a week later, to keep their last-eight hopes alive.

The Scarlets are already out of the running, having crashed to four consecutive defeats, but McCusker is determined to salvage pride by ending their host’s two-year Heineken Cup reign at the RDS.

McCusker, 27, said: “We’re fully aware of what Leinster need out of it and we are confident we can spoil their party and ambitions of getting any further.

“We knew it was going to be a tough group when Leinster and Clermont were drawn together, especially after seeing their semi-final the previous year.

“It was obvious there were going to be a couple of humdingers between them.

“Clermont are a quality side and it’s no shock that Leinster might not go through.”

The Scarlets have lost five of their last six matches in all competitions, but McCusker, who has won five caps in the Welsh back row, is confident they can put things right on the big stage.

He added: “Leinster may be a bit more confident after what they have seen of us over the last couple of weeks but if we can iron out these little errors, we will be a lot closer to where we need to be.

“I’m confident we can put things right and get back to where we were.”

McCusker is relishing his personal battle with the Leinster back row and he expects it to be a titanic tussle, intensified by what looms on the horizon.

“It would be a great challenge even if it wasn’t Lions year. They have got some great players.

“Being newish to the No 8 role, Jamie Heaslip is somebody I have looked at for a bit of inspiration and guidance. He’s a great player, a seasoned international and one of the senior members of that Leinster team and the Ireland squad.

“We will be highlighting a particular focus from certain individuals but we also know if we take our eye off the rest of them, we could be hurt.”

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