Garry Ringrose says no one player can be handed the task of stopping Cheslin Kolbe when Leinster face Toulouse on Saturday.
The tricky South African winger is one of the most dangerous and exciting players in world rugby, and will be going all out at the RDS to help the French side book their place in the Champions Cup quarter-finals.
Victory for the Top 14 side – while denying Leinster a losing bonus point – would guarantee them a place in the knockout stage.
Beating Leo Cullen’s side for the second time in the pool stage would take some doing, but Ringrose admits the French side are uniquely stocked to do so.
“Kolbe has scored some pretty special tries,” he said, “It’s incredibly difficult to stop him, it’s easy to say it but to then go and do it... you just try, if he is in or around you, to grab a hold of him and do your best not to let go. A lot of guys have gone to tackle him and I’m sure the tackler feels they’ve made an impact tackle but he’s managed to bounce off one or two more and slip through. I think just getting a shoulder on him and then don’t let go is the challenge with him.
“That’s before even addressing his footwork with which he seems to be beating guys for fun. There’s the primary tackler, the guys either side of him and even the guys either side of them that there’d be huge importance on.”
Joe Tekori’s off-loading ability was something else highlighted by Ringrose, as well as the French back-line’s talent.
“I think one thing we must do better is probably ball-control,” Ringrose said. “You can’t kick loosely to them, I think if you just give it to their back three, they’re just so dangerous that each kick has to have a purpose, whether it’s contestable or finding grass, or even putting it out. That ball-control and some loose kicks didn’t help us the last time around.”
Leinster lost by a single point in the Stade Ernest-Wallon last October, despite leading 27-21 with 15 minutes to go. They’d been 14-0 down inside the opening 20 minutes, but 14 points of their own in seven second half minutes gave them the lead.
But Maxime Medard’s late intercept try was enough to deny Leinster and hand them their first European defeat in over a year.
“There was certainly no lack of commitment, it was there, but I think we could have played better collectively as a group,” Ringrose said, speaking at the announcement of the player’s partnership renewal with PwC.
“I think we have played better, but if you flip the argument it was arguably how tough Toulouse were to play against that maybe caused us to [lose].
“It’s easy to say we could have been better, but we probably weren’t because of the threats they posed and how they shut us down defensively.”
Beating Leinster in Toulouse is one thing, but doing so in the RDS is quite another.
The hosts are short odds to win the game, and keep alive their hopes of another home quarter-final, but Ringrose is not going into the weekend with any hint of complacency.
“It doesn’t feel like too long ago when we were beaten by Scarlets in a [Pro12] semi-final and were beaten by Benetton last season, and we we were nearly beaten by Connacht recently,” he said. “There is still is the fear of losing at home, your family are there and your friends are there in a packed out stadium and you want to do well. So any time a team comes to play in the RDS that’s what you want to do.
“A great team is one that just tries to be ruthless and win at every opportunity, you just play and that what I would focus on.”