Scarlets unfazed by decision to play Leinster semifinal at Aviva Stadium

PA Sport3 Minute Read
Scarlets beat Munster at the Aviva Stadium last May to claim the PRO12 title.Ashley Crowden - CameraSport via Getty Images

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac says the choice of venue for Saturday's European Champions Cup semifinal against Leinster was "never going to bother us".

Leinster have home country advantage, with the Aviva Stadium venue designated by tournament organisers European Professional Club Rugby being barely half a mile away from their normal Royal Dublin Society Arena home ground.

It has raised eyebrows in some quarters, but Pivac said: "We have worked really hard to get to the semifinal, and to be quite honest, wherever we played it, it was never going to bother us.

"That is for other people to decide -- what is neutral and what is not.

"It is a magnificent stadium, in terms of your preparation, changing rooms and everything is international standard.

"The location of the stadium as a neutral venue? Look, there will be plenty of support for the locals I am sure, they won't have too far to travel, but I know one Scarlets supporter probably makes up for 10 of the opposition.

"Hopefully, there will be something like 5,000 Scarlets fans there by the sounds of it, which is a great number of travelling supporters. I don't know if it will be the cauldron that some people think.

"For us, it is a semifinal, it is an opportunity, it is 80 minutes away from creating history. That is the way we are approaching it."

Scarlets pulled off an unlikely victory over Leinster in last season's PRO12 semifinals despite being reduced to 14 men in the first half.Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images

The Llanelli-based Scarlets contest a first European semifinal since 2007, while three-time European champions Leinster -- despite being drawn in a group that also featured Exeter, Montpellier and Glasgow -- won all six games and collected 27 points from a possible 30.

They then knocked out Saracens at the quarterfinal stage, and led by Ireland fly-half talisman Johnny Sexton, Leinster start as favourites against a side that beat them in last season's PRO12 playoffs on route to winning the title.

Asked how the Scarlets might stop Sexton running the game, Pivac joked: "Hopefully he gets the flu or something between now and then.

"He is quality, isn't he. We put a lot of pressure on him last year, and had some success. So I guess it is no secret that all teams will try and put some pressure, bring some line-speed.

"But he is one player, and I think if you focus on one player it can free up space for others. He is just one of 15 that we are going to have to keep an eye on and be very, very good defensively."