Toby Booth Plans Dortmund-Style Determination To Upturn The Form Book

GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 12: Ospreys' Head Coach Toby Booth during the EPCR Challenge Cup Quarter Final match between Gloucester Rugby and Ospreys at Kingsholm Stadium on April 12, 2024 in Gloucester, England.(Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Toby Booth Plans Dortmund-Style Determination To Upturn 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 draw inspiration from Borussia Dortmund as they take on the Leinster “juggernaut” in Dublin.

“We have surprised a few people in how we’ve gone this year, so it shows it still can be done. That’s the beauty of sport,” said Booth.

“You saw this week in the Champions League. Borussia Dortmund didn’t have a chance, according to everybody, but they find themselves in the final.”

Giving his verdict on Leinster, he said: “They are the juggernaut, aren’t they?

“They have got 60 odd players of the same calibre. So it doesn’t matter who wears the shirt.

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

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

“You know Leinster are effectively a super power of the URC and you know how difficult it is to match that. They have got a lot to play for and are a very, very good team.

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

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

“I know we have probably got to win two,” he said, looking at their three remaining fixtures.

“I think people are going to take points off each other. I am sure the sponsors are loving it because there is a lot on a lot of games.”

The Ospreys welcome back Wales flanker Jac Morgan after six months out following knee surgery, but fellow Test forward Adam Beard has picked up an ankle injury that will end his season and may well 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 hamstring damage.

Second-placed Leinster show five changes from the side that beat 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 waiting in reserve on the bench.

Scarlets v Ulster Rugby, Saturday, 3.05pm

It’s that time of year when a lot of departures are announced and the Scarlets have confirmed some particularly high-profile names on their leaving list ahead of their last 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 starts on the wing against Ulster, while prop Jones, centre Williams and scrum-half Hardy are among the replacements.

Speaking about letting players go, coach Dwayne Peel said: “It’s always a difficult thing to do.

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

“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 a rebuild for us now. We have lost a lot of experience over the last couple of years. It takes time to replace that and it takes a new group to grasp it by the reins.”

This weekend Peel goes up against a team he spent four years with on the coaching staff, while his assistant Jared Payne was there for more than a decade as 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 are obviously going to come here with that in mind. So it’s going to be a hard challenge.

“But we have been 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 into the side at hooker.

Emirates Lions v Cardiff Rugby, Saturday, 5.15pm

Cardiff coach Matt Sherratt has been giving his thoughts on being out in South Africa, as his team prepares for back-to-back games in Johannesburg and Durban.

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

“You can turn on any TV channel and there’s school games on.

“I think the players and the staff really enjoy coming out here. It’s a place you can go for 10, 12 days, hopefully with a little bit of sun, time to get together as a squad and play some good rugby.

“It’s very easy to go to South Africa and kind of take your eye off the ball a little bit, but we haven’t come out here just so the season can fizzle out. This Cardiff team and our Cardiff fans deserve a lot more than that.

“We’ve got to be the best version of ourselves, showing a load of fight and playing some positive rugby.”

On his return to his homeland, fly-half Tinus de Beer continues his remarkable record of having started every game this season, while centre Ben Thomas is handed the captaincy just days after becoming a father for the first time.

For the Lions, who are down in eleventh but still in the play-off mix, full-back Quan Horn returns from injury for his 50th appearance.

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