Leinster and Ireland lock James Ryan is under no illusions as to the task facing his side in the Heineken Champions Cup final later this month.
Saracens are the only unbeaten team in the competition having won eight games in a row in Europe and go into the final off the back of two comfortable victories over Glasgow Warriors and Munster in the last eight and last four respectively.
Speaking as he was nominated for the Zurich Players’ Player of the Year Award for 2019, Ryan detailed Saracens’ quality and conceded that it will require a “season’s best performance” to beat them in Newcastle
“I thought in the quarter-final and the semi-final they were very ruthless and efficient. They only conceded three tries in both games so defensively they are so good. Defensively they’re the best team in the Premiership.
“Even on the ball they’re class. They scored nine tries across the quarter and the semi. I think they’re the in-form team in Europe. They’re unbeaten, nobody else is, so we’re well aware that it’s going to require a season’s best performance.”
Their opponents may be Europe’s most in-form team but Leinster’s decisive 30-12 win over Toulouse in the semi-finals will undoubtedly fill them with confidence heading into the titanic clash.
As will their victory over Saracens in last season’s quarter-finals which saw Leinster rack up three tries to the Premiership side’s one on the way to a 30-19 win.
Ryan feels that this time around it is very important to impose their game on Saracens early and to “back themselves” to play, as he put it, “Leinster rugby.”
“We can’t sit back and wait for them. We have to go after them and when we have the ball we have to play Leinster rugby. Everyone’s got to be comfortable on the ball everyone has got to want the ball and be ready to express themselves so that’s always our template.
“We play Leinster rugby, we back ourselves and that’s what we’ll look to do.
“When you come up against a defence as good as Saracens, you can be anything but predictable against a team like that. Playing Leinster rugby, expressing ourselves and backing ourselves is what it’s going to take.”
James Ryan and Jack Carty were on hand to announce the nominees for the 2019 Zurich Players’ Player of the Year Award. The Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards, one of the biggest nights in Irish sport, will take place on Wednesday, 15th May, at the Clayton Hotel in Ballsbridge.