Even in victory, Saracens defeat still stuck in Leinster minds

Even in victory, Saracens defeat still stuck in Leinster minds
James Lowe and Jack Conan celebrate. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

James Lowe described Leinster’s comeback from their Heineken Champions Cup final defeat to Guinness PRO14 champions as “a mourning process” such was the devastation felt after losing to Saracens.

Four-time European champions Leinster had been rocked by their first final loss when Saracens powered to their third title in four years with a 20-10 victory at St James’ Park.

Yet they rallied on their return to beat Leinster in the PRO14 semi-final a week later and capped their rebound with an 18-10 win over Glasgow Warriors on Saturday night at Celtic Park.

“Aw mate, it was like someone blooming passed away,” Leinster’s New Zealand wing Lowe said of the aftermath of the Saracens defeat.

“It was devastation.”

Lowe revealed Leinster had brought in a sports psychologist to address the issue but also stressed the players had led the mental recovery.

You know, you work so hard, you get to the last hurdle and we didn’t quite get over it. It still hurts thinking about it.

"It was a mourning process, but we had people come in and talk to us and we opened up as a group, talked about what was needed and it was about putting those words into actions.

“A lot of very high-profile players probably took it on themselves, as in the reason why we lost, but obviously it comes down to a few moments, we came up short. We learned from it though, that’s the big thing.

Explaining the sports psychologist’s role, Lowe added: “A fella came in and just talked to us. It was more about just us, more than anything. We were all ‘what if’, so we managed to just talk things through as a team.

“We knew that if we kept moping around about it, Munster were just around the corner, so we bounced back and played awesome against Munster at the RDS, and we made it to here (the PRO14 final), it was another challenge and we managed to jump the hurdle.

“You know, three weeks ago we were probably stuck in fourth gear. Credit to Saracens for keeping us in that gear, they applied a lot of pressure and we learned a lot, we talked a lot and today we didn’t leave it as just words. 

"We talked about it but you also have to make sure that you back it up with actions and I felt we did.”

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