Leinster has been waiting for its revenge for a year and will have it this Saturday at 5.45 p.m. during a final of the most prestigious of the European Cups that has become clic against Stade Rochelais.
We take the same and start again. But this time around, the eastern Irish province of Leinster will not have the same determination as last year. The explanation is as clear as it is understandable, she will face the team from La Rochelle, who dismissed her froma fifth European grail last year at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille (21-24). Except that now it’s the Irish’s turn to play “ residence since the final will take place in Dublin. “ This time it’s our turn to play in front of our families said Jamison Gibbson-Park earlier this week.
In an attempt to take revenge on a Stade Rochelais also with a knife between their teeth, the Leinstermen will rely again and again on their ferocious Irish weapons, having led the XV of Clover to win the Six Nations Tournament a few weeks ago.
Josh van der Flier, 30, third row
Voted Best Player in the World World Rugby in 2022, Josh van der Flier is quite possibly his best position in world rugby. The Irishman is simply capable of doing everything on a pitch. As skilful and agile with the ball in hand as he is active and formidable in combat, he knows how to perfectly combine power and gestures, something quite rare, even if he is not excessively tall for a flanker, 1m83, 105 kg. Never without his helmet, the Irish number 7 is a relentless tackler who rakes the lawns in search of balls and often also of his opponents. But he is also a formidable try scorer, proof with 6 tries this season in the Champions Cup, nobody does better.
For the former specialist of the post at the Blues Yannick Nyanga, van der Flier is “ the modern version of Richie McCaw » from which the Leinster player drew a lot of inspiration. He who has won almost everything, collectively and individually, awaits the World Cup with appetite to add a final line to a well-stocked list.
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James Lowe, 30, winger
Originally from New Zealand, the 30-year-old will return at the best of times, after missing the semi-final against Toulouse at the end of April. Once again, when quoting the best wingers on the rugby planet today, his name must come up in the discussion. Easily recognizable on his left wing with his dark mane, he is a real rock (1m88, 105 kg). A m of muscle difficult to move and eliminate, Lowe is one of the best in defense. Add to that a kicking game as powerful as it is precise, he allows his team to be versatile while remaining dangerous in all aspects of the game.
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Garry Ringrose, 28, center
Another senior player for Leinster and the Irish team. At the centre, Ringrose has been a benchmark for many years. Holder 18 times out of 20 games (including the final on Saturday), he scored 9 tries this season in all competitions including 4 in 6 games in the competition. But above all, he has never known defeat this season, whether with his province or his national team. La Rochelle has been warned it is a mountain of statistics and events in favor of their adversaries that will have to be overcome.
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Jamison Gibson-Park, 31, scrum half
The offensive metronome of this Leinster team is him, especially in the absence of Jonathan Sexton at the opening. Gibson-Park is the one who sets the tempo with his quick releases and crosses that the offensive line loves. A real particle accelerator, he is a player who blends perfectly into the very well-established collective of Leinster. But facing Kerr-Barlow, he will have to show himself more and with character to guide his team to success.
Qualities that the player born in New Zealand owes to Stuart Lancaster who will play his last match at the head of Leinster before joining Racing 92 next season. “ It was someone crucial in my career. And I’m not the only one: for a lot of guys here at Leinster he was paramount. On a personal level, it allowed me to change my vision of things, on rugby itself. He had a huge impact praised the Irish scrum-half of his coach.
Tadhg Furlong, 30, right pillar
An old-timer, with a lot of experience. This is a good definition of what Furlong represents. He too is undefeated this season with Leinster but he missed several games with a few injuries along the way. A track record as long as the arm and multiple distinctions, for the one who was designated in the best XV World Rugby in 2021 and 2022 and who could certainly be there this year. Same thing for the Six Nations Tournament since it was also in the best XV of the Tournament these same two years. With 65 selections, he is, without pun intended, a true pillar of Irish rugby.