The 16th season of the Heineken Cup blasted off in sensational style last weekend, with just two wins on the road in Round 1. Now the challenge for 2009 champions Leinster is to add to that tally at the new tournament venue of the revamped Wembley Stadium when they take on Saracens at the home of English soccer on Saturday.
And Leinster’s Sean O’Brien – the Heineken Man of the Match in the 38-22 win over Racing Metro 92 in Dublin – cannot wait to play at the 90,000 capacity stadium.
“It is certainly an exciting prospect,” said the international flanker. “None of us have ever played there before and some of us have never even been there before, so it will be something new. It’ll be something different and everyone’s looking forward to getting over there and seeing what it’s like.
“It is always good to have a massive crowd and a great atmosphere. The atmosphere in the Aviva Stadium when we played Munster was exceptional and I’m sure the atmosphere at Wembley is going to be the same, if not better. That’ll be good for both teams.
“And we do have a lot of experience as a side of playing in these big games. There’s a good mix out there with younger lads who have played in games like these last year and the year before. We all know what it’s about and there will be no fear going over there.
“If we focus on holding on to the ball, going through the phases and trusting our systems, then the game should look after itself.
“But it is an incredibly hard group. We’ve only got one win and there’s a long way to go in the Pool stages. We have to be on our game every single week – that’s what it will take to get out of this group.
“And if you mention the Heineken Cup around Leinster people they start getting very excited – and that goes for us players as well. It’s that extra step up in intensity – you’re coming up against better and bigger teams every week. The crowd obviously love it and you can see that.
“Against Racing we really worked for that win. We knew that Racing could potentially score from anywhere so we said we needed to stick to our defensive system. We stuck to our guns and it worked out for us in the end.
“I wouldn’t say we were lacking any confidence going into the game with Racing but it does give you confidence playing well at the start of a competition. It’s up to us now to bring it into Saturday.
“However, Saracens are a very dangerous side. They have an incredible amount of talent and it will be a massive test for us. It’s one we’re looking forward to, though, and hopefully we can give a good performance.
“We’ve done a bit of scouting on them already and they’re all exceptional players. We’ll go there in the right frame of mind and ready to play.”