Stephen Ferris gives his prediction for Leinster vs La Rochelle

Stephen Ferris

Former Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris reckons Leinster will book their place in a sixth Heineken Champions Cup final by beating La Rochelle on Sunday.

Leinster will travel to France this weekend to take on Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle at the Stade Marcel-Deflandre, in what promises to be an intriguing European heavyweight battle.

Ferris was speaking on RTE’s Game On, and backed Leinster to beat the up-and-coming French side, after the eastern province’s impressive display against Exeter Chiefs in the Champions Cup quarter-final.

“Leinster, after that Saracens quarter-final defeat, they have it in their heads that they will go all guns blazing to get the trophy back to Dublin,” Ferris said.

“Everyone was talking Exeter up, me included, before the quarter-finals. Current European champions, Gallagher Premiership champions, but Leinster could have pulled away even more in that game I thought.

“I believe they will get the victory. They won’t give La Rochelle the space they want.”

Traditional powers come up against new European heavyweights.

Leinster last won the Champions Cup in 2018, but have had their European hopes ended by Saracens in their last two seasons after a pair of disappointing performances.

Saracens were absent from this year’s Champions Cup on account of their relegation from the Gallagher Premiership due to breaching salary cap regulations.

That saw Leinster tipped as early favourites, along with Exeter Chiefs and Toulouse to become European champions.

This season’s tournament has thrown up a few surprises, as La Rochelle and Bordeaux Begles both booked their first appearance in a Champions Cup semi-final thanks to impressive wins against Sale Sharks and Racing 92.

Both clubs will head into this weekend’s matches as underdogs, with Toulouse and Leinster expected to battle it out in the final for the honour of becoming the first side to win five Champions Cups.

Leinster won’t be looking past La Rochelle however, who have dazzled at time’s thanks to their ‘keep ball alive’ philosophy, while Bordeuax have the ability to upset the odds largely thanks to young France fly-half Matthieu Jalibert.

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