Sport Champions Cup

Friday 24 March 2017

Brian O'Driscoll: Win over Toulon would be one of the biggest victories in Leinster history

Delon Armitage is tackled by Brian O'Driscoll during Leinster's defeat to Toulon last year
Delon Armitage is tackled by Brian O'Driscoll during Leinster's defeat to Toulon last year
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Former Leinster and Ireland great Brian O'Driscoll believes Toulon are 'comfortable favourites' for this weekend's Champions Cup semi-final in Marseilles but an away win is far from unachievable.

Matt O'Connor's men will travel to the south of France as 9/2 outsiders but BOD believes that a Leinster team with nothing to lose could be very dangerous.

"They won't go over and completely fear Toulon. They should play with a little bit of fear because when you're playing against a team of that calibre, you have to have that in your gut - that little bit of concern," he told Off The Ball on Newstalk.

"But at the same time, they should go over there and feel it is a little bit of a freebie, in that no one expects them to win. If they do, it quite possibly could be one of the greatest Leinster victories of all time."

Leinster failed to cross the tryline in the quarter-final victory over Bath and won via the boot of Ian Madigan but O'Driscoll believes penalties won't be enough to halt Toulon's march.

"I don't think you're going to kick Toulon into defeat. You have to go out and think you've got to score more tries than them. With the way Leinster have been defending, you've got to feel as though they're likely to concede a couple. So if they conceded a couple, they're probably going to need to score two or three themselves," he added.

In recent weeks, Leinster's missed tackle count has been worryingly high and a repeat of that form at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday could have disastrous consequences.

At half time in the Bath game, BOD was shocked to see that the boys in Blue had missed almost 50pc of their tackles.

"No team should be able to survive on that and you should ask some questions of the Bath team on that," he continued.

"Teams want 10pc or less missed tackles so that is a big target for them this week."

Matt O'Connor has been taking a lot of flak all season and O'Driscoll is hoping that a win  will 'soften the cough' of some of his critics.

"Matt O'Connor, maybe he's not the same type of coach as Joe Schmidt, but he's produced the league in year one and he's got to the semi-final of Europe in year two, I appreciate that it was a relatively easy group this year, but if he win at the weekend and get this Leinster team into a final, I'm sure an awful lot will be forgiven.

"Some of the people who have been piping up on social media over the past couple of weeks, it might just soften their cough a little bit.

"Leinster have good pedigree for European Cups, I would feel as though Toulon are comfortable favourites but it is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility of Leinster winning this one."

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