Leinster centre Brian O’Driscoll insists his team’s excellent RaboDirect PRO12 form won’t necessarily translate to success in the Heineken Cup when they play Cardiff Blues in the quarter-finals.
O’Driscoll only made his competitive comeback from injury two weeks ago against the Ospreys in the PRO12 and will be playing his first European match of the season at the Aviva Stadium.
His return coincided with Leinster’s first defeat in six months of domestic and European action and he’s determined to step up the team’s performance against the Blues.
“They are two different competitions and you’re form in one doesn’t count in the other,” he said.
“You have to still back it up and that’s what we’ve got to be able to do this weekend and if anything up the standard because when you get to the knockout stage the best sides only carry on into the semis and finals.
“Now finally I’ve got a couple of games under my belt I’ve forgotten what it’s like in those lonely Saturdays when you’re sitting at home after a hard week’s training.”
Leinster’s head coach Joe Schmidt will hand a Heineken Cup debut to All Black and WorldCup winner Brad Thorn and has captain Leo Cullen back in the side after missing last weekend’s derby victory over Munster.
For Cardiff, No. 8 Xavier Rush returns to the team that lost to Glasgow 31-3, following the birth of his son last Friday.
Martyn Williams will line up alongside him having recovered from a rib injury and there are also two changes to the front row with Marc Breeze starting for the injured Ryan Tyrell at hooker and Grand Slamwinner Gethin Jenkins coming in for John Yapp at loosehead prop.
However the Blues will be without Jamie Roberts, who is sidelined through injury for up to six months, but coach Gareth Baber insists they have the players to cover the hard-running centre’s absence.
"It has been documented that Jamie is injured, which is a blow for us, but we have two players, Dafydd Hewitt and Gavin Evans, who have epitomised exactly the culture that Justin[Burnell] and I are trying to develop here,” said Baber.
"These are two players you need around your group to push them on, you also have people like Gethin Jenkins and Michael Paterson who are ultimate competitors, who want to be recognised for how competitive they are.
"They are solely focused on making sure there is a performance from ourselves at the Aviva."