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Toby Booth plans a Dortmund-style determination to boost the form book
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Toby Booth plans a Dortmund-style determination to boost the form book

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By Simon Thomas

Leinster Rugby v Ospreys, Saturday, 7.35pm

Ospreys coach Toby Booth is calling on his team to take inspiration from Borussia Dortmund as they take on the Leinster giants in Dublin.

“We surprised a few people with the way we went this year, so it shows that it can still be done. That’s the beauty of sports,” said Booth.

“You saw it this week in the Champions League. According to everyone, Borussia Dortmund had no chance, but they are in the final.”

Giving his assessment of Leinster, he said: ‘They are the juggernaut, aren’t they?

“They have sixty players of the same caliber. So it doesn’t matter who is wearing the shirt.

“They have the luxury of making selection choices, where others don’t necessarily do so.

“That’s the advantage of having deep pockets and deep squads. There is no complaining or whining about it. It is what it is.

“You know Leinster is basically a URC superpower and you know how hard it is to match that. They have a lot to play for and are a very, very good team.

“It’s very difficult to compete, but we’ve competed there before and we’ll compete there again and see where it takes us.”

Booth’s team go into the weekend in 10th place in the URC table, but they are just four points off the play-offs, with Welsh derbies against the Dragons and Cardiff to continue their journey to the RDS.

“I know we probably have to win two,” he said, looking at the three remaining games.

“I think people are going to take points away from each other. I’m sure the sponsors will love it because there’s a lot riding on a lot of games.”

The Ospreys welcome Wales flanker Jac Morgan after a six-month absence following knee surgery, but fellow Test forward Adam Beard has suffered an ankle injury that will end his season and could rule him out of the summer tour of Australia.

Openside Morgan is named among the replacements, while fellow World Cup captain Dewi Lake makes his first start since January at hooker after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Second-placed Leinster make five changes from the side that defeated Northampton 20-17 in the Champions Cup semi-final last weekend, with the likes of Josh van der Flier, Jamison Gibson-Park, Dan Sheehan and Jack Conan in reserve waited in second place. Bank.

Scarlets v Ulster Rugby, Saturday, 3.05pm

It’s that time of year when many departures are announced and the Scarlets have confirmed some particularly high-profile names on their departure list ahead of their final home game of the season.

Wales and Lions stars Jonathan Davies, Wyn Jones and the retiring Ken Owens are all moving on, along with the likes of Scott Williams, Dan Jones, Ryan Conbeer and Eduan Swart, plus Ospreys-bound duo Kieran Hardy and Steff Thomas, while Johnny McNicholl left for New Zealand in March.

Conbeer will start on the wing against Ulster, while prop Jones, center Williams and scrum-half Hardy are among the replacements.

On letting players go, coach Dwayne Peel said: “It’s always difficult to do.

“But it’s a professional sport, it’s part of what we do. Every year will be the same. There is no escape.

“Unfortunately you have to say goodbye to players. All we can do is thank them for their great contribution to this club.”

He added: “It’s rebuilding for us now. We have lost a lot of experience in recent years. It will take time to replace that and it will take a new group to grab it by the reins.”

This weekend, Peel will face a team he spent four years on the coaching staff with, while his assistant Jared Payne was there for more than a decade as a player and coach.

“They are in the hunt for the play-offs after hard-fought wins against Cardiff and Benetton,” said former Wales scrum-half Peel.

“They obviously come here with that in mind. So it will be a tough challenge.

“But we are steadily improving and we want to push this Ulster team as much as we can.”

For the visitors, full-back Mike Lowry makes his 100th appearance, while Rob Herring comes in as hooker.

Emirates Lions v Cardiff Rugby, Saturday, 5.15pm

Cardiff coach Matt Sherratt has given his thoughts on his performance in South Africa as his team prepares for back-to-back matches in Johannesburg and Durban.

“It’s a unique experience in terms of rugby style, the altitude, the fans and how big rugby is here,” he said.

“You can turn on any TV channel and it will have school games on it.

“I think the players and staff really enjoy coming here. It’s a place you can go for ten to twelve days, hopefully with a bit of sunshine, time to get together as a team and play some good rugby.

“It’s very easy to go to South Africa and take your eyes off the ball a little bit, but we didn’t come here to have the season ruined. This Cardiff team and our Cardiff fans deserve much more than that.

“We have to be the best version of ourselves, show a lot of fight and play positive rugby.”

On his return to his home country, fly-half Tinus de Beer continues his remarkable record of starting every match this season, while center Ben Thomas is given the captain’s armband just days after becoming a father for the first time.

For the Lions, who are in 11th place but still in the play-off mix, fullback Quan Horn returns from injury for his 50th appearance.

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