Howley backs Ospreys to win PRO1222/05/2012 - 17:08:28
Wales caretaker coach Rob Howley believes the Ospreys can upset Leinster’s plans of a league and European Cup double by winning the RaboDirect PRO 12 final on Sunday.
The Liberty Stadium outfit booked their place in the final by hammering defending champions Munster 45-10 in the semi-final while Leinster saw off the challenge of a resolute Glasgow team in their semi-final match, winning 19-15.
Joe Schmidt’s team then went on to beat Ulster 42-14 in a fantastic Heineken Cup final performance earning them back-to-back titles with many dubbing this Leinster squad as the best the Heineken Cup has seen.
While Howley appreciates the quality in the Leinster ranks, he believes the high of their European achievement may thwart their preparations for Sunday’s final.
“The Ospreys have a great opportunity and I think they will win the match," he said.
"I can only liken it to when I was a player when it is difficult to lift yourself after a major victory.
"I remember when I played for Wasps in the 2004 Heineken Cup final, we had Bath in the Premiership play-off final six days later.
"It was tough and we did not train until the Wednesday or Thursday and only had two sessions.
"It will be crucial how Leinster prepare. But, psychologically, when you become European champions, it's difficult to go out to try and play a game which is your regional equivalent.”
Howley will take charge of Wales on their tour on Australia this summer as Head Coach Warren Gatland continues to recover from injuries he suffered after a fall in New Zealand in April.
The former Wasps scrum-half knows victory for the Ospreys would provide a timely boost to the Welsh squad ahead of the tour and he believes the longer break from rugby the Ospreys have enjoyed could prove the difference on Sunday.
"The Ospreys will have had two weeks rest and I am sure they will take a lot of confidence going into Sunday, having put together an impressive run of results.
"It would be a huge boost to the Welsh camp if they won.”
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