Quinnell: Scarlets can do a Liverpool
THE Scarlets are being backed to make history this week by doing to Leinster in the Champions’ Cup what Liverpool did to Manchester City in the Champions’ League.
The prediction that Scarlets are ready to defy the odds against No.1 seeds Leinster in Dublin on Saturday comes from one of their most famous former players, Scott Quinnell. A Liverpool fan, the Sky TV pundit believes footballing history can repeat itself.
“Leinster will be huge favourites but in sport there are occasions when you look at an impressive team on the up and you think: ‘It’s your time’,” Quinnell said.
“The Scarlets have been absolutely magnificent in their style of rugby. I think their time has come.
“We’ve just seen in football how an unfancied team in red beat a fancied one in
blue. If it can happen in the Champions’ League, then it can happen in the Champions’ Cup.
“Leinster are one of the best in Europe, if not the best but then they said that about Manchester City. Liverpool were the underdogs and look what they did to them. So why not dream?
“Everyone is talking about Leinster being at home and about the amazing depth of their squad but we remember how the Scarlets went to the RDS in the semi-finals of the PRO12 last season and won with a fair bit to spare. They were absolutely magnificent.
“Since then the Scarlets have added more steel to their game. They have learnt that there are times when it’s wise to hold the reins back a bit to ensure they stay in control and they’ve been all the better for that.
“Their all-action game is brilliant and they will come flying out of the traps against Leinster. I was only a month old when Llanelli beat the All Blacks in 1972 so I don’t remember it.
“Now I’m looking forward to seeing this in front of 50,000 people. It will be a fantastic occasion and I think I’ll need an ice-pack to cool myself down!’’
No Welsh team has been to the final of Europe’s premier tournament since Cardiff lost to Toulouse during the inaugural season 22 years ago. Since then only the Scarlets have been to three semi-finals and lost them all.
Dafydd James, the former Wales and Lions wing who played in two of those losing semis, said: “We’ve come so close so often to winning the European Cup that it would be wonderful for the whole of Welsh rugby if they go all the way and win the trophy. I hope they go out and attack them.
“They will cause problems but Leinster in Dublin is the toughest ask of all but the Scarlets put in a great performance in beating Glasgow last week.
“It will be very close but my fear is that they will have a little more strength.’’