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Leinster Star Josh Van Der Flier Previews La Rochelle Quarterfinal Clash

Leinster Star Josh Van Der Flier Previews La Rochelle Quarterfinal Clash

Leinster star Josh van der Flier discusses his team's upcoming Investec Champions Cup quarterfinal match with La Rochelle at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Apr 10, 2024 by Philip Bendon

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Four-time Investec Champions Cup winner Leinster Rugby will take on back-to-back defending champion La Rochelle in the latest instalment of the competition’s fiercest rivalry of the past five years.

Downing its Irish rival in the past two finals, as well as in a semifinal in the 2020-2021 season, La Rochelle has become the Dubliners boogeyman.

Breaking this pattern earlier this season, Leinster downed its rival on the road during the pool stages in what will be a major confidence boost ahead of this weekend’s quarterfinal.

Speaking ahead of the fixture, former World Player Of The Year Josh van der Flier said that despite playing well every season, a mindset change was needed for the knockout stages.

"We’ve played very well for a few years now, and there hasn’t been the success in Europe that every team wants," the 30-year-old backrow said. "One thing we’ve talked about, I suppose it’s obvious enough, knockout rugby is not like a league where whoever plays the best, and wins the most games, gets the most points is just the winner overall. 

"You’ve got to earn it through knockout. No one goes in with the trophy in their grasp and then loses it. You have to go and attack it.

"You start the knockouts with the same chance that everyone else has, so no matter how you play leading into it or what form you have, you still have to go and earn it.

"I don’t think there’s any sort of panic or feeling it’s now or never, we just take each challenge as it comes and it’s certainly a big challenge this week and that’s the mindset.

"We’ve got a lot of respect for La Rochelle, they are a brilliant side, really well-coached with really good individual players, so it’s hard to say whether they are our biggest rivals or not.

"We know it will be a big challenge. We’ll have to be at our best."

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