After watching England’s Saracens stars bully Ireland last Sunday, Peter Dooley says Leinster will have to front up physically if they are to keep their European Champions Cup hopes alive.
The Leinster prop, who was man of the match in the province’s win over Ospreys last Friday, looked on in anguish as Jamie George, Maro Itoje, and George Kruis hammered into Andy Farrell’s men on their way to a 24-12 win in Twickenham. Owen Farrell and Elliot Daly were also part of the win, while Mako Vunipola is expected to return for the quarter-final, having missed Sunday’s game.
“The Saracens lads are key men, like Farrell, Itoje, Jamie George, they are all going to be playing in April,” Dooley said. “They brought that physicality in abundance at the weekend and it is something that we are going to have to prepare for. The Irish boys will have been disappointed. I would have thought that they would have talked about it all week, about that physicality. They were nearly a bit bullied, it was kind of frustrating.
“James Ryan showed how physical he was, flying into things and leading by example. It’s tough, though, they are big, physical men.”
Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong, and Rob Herring were part of a not-so-small Ireland front row, with Andrew Porter, Rónan Kelleher, and Dave Kilcoyne adding plenty of beef from the bench. But Dooley, who made his 10th start of the season for Leinster on Friday, hopes to join them in green.
“That’s the aim, the ambition for me, to play for Ireland,” he said. “It’s the same for every person, wanting to play for Ireland. Hopefully that’s a string to my bow if I can carry well.
“I look at Caelan [Doris] and Ronan [Kelleher] who came on on Sunday, they made gain-lines straight away. It made such a difference to the Ireland gameplan.”