Leinster eye record-equalling fifth Euro crown

Leinster eye record-equalling fifth Euro crown

Marseille (AFP) – A Johnny Sexton-drove Leinster will take on 2021 other participants La Rochelle in the European Champions Cup in Marseille on Saturday, looking at a record-equalling fifth continental crown.

Toulouse beat La Rochelle last year for a fifth European title; however, Leinster, with Ireland captain Sexton to the front, pounded the reigning champs in the semi-finals to set up a captivating match facing a French side coached by Munster legend Ronan O’Gara.

“This last would have been unique if it had been Munster, and yet, they’re gigantic rivals,” said O’Gara, who has changed La Rochelle since taking over in 2019 after a coaching stretch with the Crusaders.

Leinster, who recently won the competition in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2018, and lost 2019 last, “are a group against which I’ve played a lot of matches as a player, a group for which I have a ton of regard, who are right now areas of strength for truly”, O’Gara, who competed with Sexton for the Ireland fly-half shirt.

“In any case, that is all previously; today, I’m La Rochelle coach with an opportunity of a lifetime to win this last, which is exceptionally cool.”

To all the more likely get ready for the last against Leinster, amazing 40-17 champs over Toulouse in their semi-last, O’Gara said he had returned to video of La Rochelle’s 32-23 triumph over Sexton’s group in the last four of last season’s Cup.

“We’ve seen a few pictures of last year’s semi-last; however that was a year prior,” said O’Gara, who, as a player with Munster, won the European Cup in 2006 and 2008.

“They’ve truly advanced in their game and us too. Simultaneously, it provides us with a ton of certainty, yet I favour focusing on our game and settling things.

“It ultimately depends on us to force our game,” he said. “It’ll mean quite a bit to play an area and in the right zones.

“When they show up in our 22, they’re an extreme group to stop. They’re very organized, so we want to control the ball well.”

Clinical, exact

La Rochelle commander Gregory Alldritt repeated O’Gara’s feelings.

“It’s the challenge I love,” the free-wandering back-row forward said, calling the ongoing Leinster crop “clinical, extremely exact”.

“They play many examples, yet at the same, it’s so professional it’s productive.”

Alldritt added: “Leinster make up 3/4 of the Ireland group, with the equivalent gameplan. Our objective will attempt to disturb what they’re accustomed to doing.”

La Rochelle goes into Saturday’s down on the rear of three losses in finals, having lost to Toulouse in last season’s Top 14 and European Cup standoffs and the 2019 European Challenge Cup.

“Assuming I want five finals to win one, sign me up immediately,” Alldritt said. “The objective is to come out on top for a championship. We don’t discuss rout since, in such a case that we begin discussing it, it’s the end.

“I’m persuaded we can win this against Leinster and that we will win.”

Similar feelings were communicated by Leinster, with star flanker Josh van der Flier saying: “There’s a craving, surely, in the group to return there and to win it.

“I wouldn’t agree that we feel a gigantic measure of strain because clearly, it’s something hard to win. It’s an extremely troublesome contest, with many incredible groups.

“However, most certainly, there’s an enormous longing and yearning from the group, from everybody, from me by and by to get to that stage and win.”

Van de Flier added: “Taking a gander at the group and the crew, there’s a ton of us in the group who could not have possibly played in a European last previously. Not something we’re utilized to, so it’s extremely energizing.”

Leinster supervisor Leo Cullen, the main individual to have brought home a European championship as player and coach, said he expected “an incredible game. We need to win, and we realize they are frantic to win too”.

O’Gara, Cullen added, “has such areas of strength for this competition, he will be frantic” to win it.

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