Donal Lenihan is predicting a win for Leinster but defeat for Munster in this weekend’s European Champions Cup semi-finals.
Munster are first up in Saturday taking on English giants Saracens at the Aviva Stadium and then Leinster are in action on Sunday against France’s Clermont Auvergne in Lyon.
Teams playing in semi-finals in their own country have a better than 50 per cent chance of winning based on historical results, but Lenihan expects that trend to be bucked.
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"Look at the two semi-finals and history would suggest that you would go with the two teams playing at home, but I would give Leinster a better chance of winning their semi-final than Munster," said the former Ireland international, speaking on RTÉ’s Rugby Podcast.
"Leinster have so much talent and the key factor has been when they have lost players due to injury or Ireland duty there has been a queue of quality players who stepped up to the mark and performed.
"We saw that against Wasps in the quarter-final when they lost Jamie Heaslip, who has been such a stand-out performer for so long, and Rob Kearney, and arguably two of their best performers on the day were Jack Conan and Joey Carbery so that must stand to them.
"If Leinster can dominate up front, and I think they can, it can give them the platform to win.
"If you were putting your house on it, Saracens and Claremont are the favourites. But there is something about Leinster this year, they have a buzz and Stuart Lancaster has added so much behind the scrum in terms of positivity in attack."
Lenihan isn’t completely writing off Munster’s chances and he says the Aviva Stadium will be a big factor acting in their favour, though he says they have a mountain to climb.
"Saracens for me are unquestionably the best side in the last four in Europe, but as we know that doesn’t always mean that you are guaranteed to win," he explained.
"If Munster were to play this game anywhere other than Thomond Park, you’d have to select the Aviva Stadium and I can’t wait for the game myself. I’m sure there’ll be 45,000 ravenous Munster supporters there.
"If this game was anywhere in England you’d have to feel that Saracens were overwhelming favourites, but there are other factors at play and that’s what makes it so intriguing.
"The worry for me is that you need your best performers at their peak to take on a side like Saracens. Conor Murray won’t be there, CJ Stander is likely to start, but is he 100 per cent fit?
"We’re led to believe Rory Scannell will start, but if anyone saw him going off against Ulster they would have their doubts as to his ability to finish the game.
"My concern is that Saracens are strong in all the areas Munster look to dominate - the line-out maul, the line-out and scrum. Saracens have also excelled in all of those areas so it’s not as if Munster are going to dominate all of those areas."