HEAD coach Joe Schmidt is deter-mined to use Leinster’s Magners League final defeat to Munster as a motivational tool for next season as he tries to keep his European champions on their toes for his second campaign at the helm.
A week on from their heroic comeback in the Heineken Cup final victory against Northampton, Leinster were brought back to earth by arch rivals Munster in a 19-9 defeat at Thomond Park.
While accepting that the Heineken Cup final success in his debut season as head coach was something to be proud of, the New Zealander expressed his desire to make a better fist of the Magners League in 2012 following two consecutive grand final defeats.
“I spoke to the team in the dressing room and said to the lads that this is the little bit of bitterness that we need to store away for next season, if we can get to the same stage of the competition,” Schmidt said.
“It’s the second year in a row that it has happened. ‘But I want you to reflect on the season as a whole. The effort and energy you have thrown into it, you deserve to look back with a fair bit of credit on what you have achieved.’
“There is a bit of bitterness in finishing the season with a loss. But there is a degree of satisfaction in what has been achieved. Because we’re focussed on the process of trying to play in the style that we have been, it isn’t just silverware-based but that’s unfortunately what you get judged on.
“So we can take some satisfaction from the manner in which we play.”
Schmidt acknowledged that the Millennium Stadium fight back against Northampton and a gruelling run-in to the season overall had finally taken its toll.
“It’s always going to be difficult, especially because it’s not just the two finals, it’s the (Magners) semi-final the week before that. We were even chasing qualification for the Magners League (play-offs). We did manage to manage our resources not too badly, but at the same time, I do think fatigue showed in the last 20 minutes today.”
There was a lack of a cutting edge and Munster’s massive defensive effort in front of their posts kept Leinster tryless for only the third time this season and for the first time in 13 games, dating back to an 11-3 Magners League defeat at Cardiff on February 19.
“We at least forced them to go upstairs (to the Television Match Official) and have a look a couple of times, so I know we were close,” Schmidt said. “I thought there was a very close one off the back of a lineout at one stage. They didn’t allow us to get anything clean post line breaks, and that made it difficult to get the ball down over the line.”
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