Munster flanker Alan Quinlan has insisted that he is not underestimating the threat posed by Leinster ahead of Saturday’s Heineken Cup All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park.
Reigning European champions Munster have already beaten their provincial rivals twice this season, winning 18-0 at the RDS in September before all but sealing the Magners League title with a commanding 22-5 victory over Leinster at Thomond Park earlier this month.
However, despite the apparent hold Munster are currently enjoying over Leinster, Quinlan believes that there is very little to choose between the two sides.
"Those games will count for nothing on Saturday,” the British & Irish Lion declared.
“If anything, it will give them impetus — that and the fact that they are playing in their home town and in front of a support base that has grown significantly in recent years.
“They will feel they owe us big time for those defeats this year and because last time we played them in the semi-finals [in 2006] we won, so there is huge motivation for them and they’ll work off that.
“The score lines in both matches this year do not reflect how little there is between the sides — the same applies to that Lansdowne Road semi-final — and there will never be anything much between us so it’s the little things on the day that will decide the outcome.”
Quinlan is particularly wary of Leinster on the back of their 6-5 victory over Harlequins at The Stoop in the quarter-finals.
“That win in Harlequins was hugely impressive, their defence was massive and that’s an area where they have made huge strides as Rocky Elsom complements Jamie [Heaslip] in the back row and both are really in the form of their life,” he added.
“Everyone is aware of the damage their backs can do and, with Brian [O’Driscoll] playing probably the best rugby of his life, it gives them a very serious dimension.
“I think we are two very evenly matched sides, and, like I said, it will come down to the little things, to whoever gets the break at the right time."