For the second time in less than a month, Henry Slade's team-mates look to lower Irish colours. This time around however, the slick centre will be in the thick of the action. 

England's Six Nations campaign came to a sorry end in Dublin last month, where a pumped up Ireland team powered their way to a 32-18 victory

A calf injury ruled Slade out of going toe-to-toe with Robbie Henshaw in midfield. Eddie Jones side were very much second best, while the Leinster number 13 walked away with the player of the match award. 

On Saturday, the Heineken Champions Cup holders welcome the Irish province to Sandy Park and Slade knows lessons need be learned from the loss to Ireland if aspirations of successive titles are to be maintained. 

"They just bounced through anything that went and their approach was maybe better than ours on the day," he told RTÉ Sport.

"We were getting rattled by things that weren’t going our way.

"That’s such a key part of rugby, to have that positive mindset the whole time." 

There was little time to celebrate their maiden European title last term with Covid riding roughshod over the normal playing schedules. It was back to business pretty quickly, and their title defence has been unusual to say the least. 

Edinburgh were sunk 42-0 in the pool stages, while Toulouse were awarded a 28-0 win after a number of Exeter players and staff tested positive for Covid-19 and the game was postponed. 

Last weekend they recovered from a 14-0 deficit after just eight minutes to brush aside Lyon 47-25.

Little wonder a steely resilience has been built up within their ranks. 

Leinster are historically very, very strong in this competition

"We believe in what we are doing all the time, and that belief is really important," Slade says. "When times are tough, you don’t want there to be any doubt. 

"It’s going to be a massive game at the weekend, and I’m very excited about it. Leinster are historically very, very strong in this competition." 

The Chiefs’ first game in Europe’s premier competition back in 2012 was against Leinster, and are looking for their first win over the Irish province at the fifth time of asking. There has been less than a converted score on average in those four games, with the last clash coming in the back-to-back Christmas fixtures in 2017. 

The 22-17 loss in Dublin was bitter pill to swallow given the visitors had eased into a 14-point lead before a Luke McGrath try and five Isa Nacewa penalties sent the men in blue on their way. 

Slade, who was up against Garry Ringrose and Henshaw in midfield, believes the mistakes made back then are unlikely to be repeated.

"What came out of that was frustration. Maybe there was a bit of naivety at play the last time. 

Henry Slade tries to break past Robbie Henshaw in 2017

"The consistency in what they were doing was key. They kept chipping away at the scoreboard and eventually got the lead. That was where we were in our journey then, we were younger, a bit less inclined to be consistent. 

"I think we are a much better side for it now." 

Saturday’s fixture will see Slade come up against Stuart Lancaster, the man who handed him his Test debut.

Aerially, they come after you under the high ball as well so there are a few areas where we know we have to be strong

The former England coach has won many plaudits for seamlessly fitting into the Leinster set-up and helping to boost the trophy cabinet, and the centre remembers Lancaster’s empathy in making a rookie 22-year-old feel comfortable in new surroundings. 

Now he is overseeing a Leinster side looking to lay claim to a fifth Champions Cup title and Slade is relishing the challenge they face on Saturday. 

"They have lots of internationals in the Ireland set-up, we know how hard they fight for everything. They are very good at the breakdown. Aerially, they come after you under the high ball as well so there are a few areas where we know we have to be strong.

"We have got to give them the respect they deserve, but obviously not too much because we want to be the aggressors." 

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