One of the things I find fascinating in sport is the mental toughness that sets the elite apart from everything else. When it comes down to it, it's probably the main difference to what separates athletes who are largely similar when it comes to physical attributes.
So when we look at the great Leinster team who won three Heineken Cups; what did they have that other teams didn't? Talent was important of course but this anecdote from Joe Schmidt perfectly exemplifies the attitude these winners had.
Speaking at NUI Galway yesterday, Schmidt told a story about when he was considering taking over as Leinster head coach:
I met with him [Brian O'Driscoll], Jonny Sexton and Leo Cullen as I was contemplating taking on this challenge of coaching Leinster. After discussing a great deal of issues, and asking 'what could I add to the mix?' I finally asked this question: 'what if someone doesn't do what I ask them to do?'
Without batting an eyelid Jonny Sexton said 'You don't have to worry about that. We'll take care of that.'
I thought to myself, 'with a team like this how could I go wrong?' If the players drive the environment it is a massive, massive strength in any environment.
A perfect example of self-discipline and will to win these players have.
Schmidt also spoke about being in awe of Brian O'Driscoll before becoming Leinster head coach ' They had some players like Brian O'Driscoll who I was in awe of. If I had to coach someone like that, how do I coach them if I'm intimidated by them?'