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Good to know BOD is resting up ahead of big match

IF you need to come up with an excuse for the wife why you can't accompany her to a royal wedding, playing in a Heineken Cup semi-final for your home province is about as good as you are going to get.

Amy Huberman will have to travel to London alone and Leinster fans can sleep easy in the knowledge that Brian is resting up for the visit of Toulouse to the Aviva stadium on Saturday afternoon.



PANIC

Winston Churchill said "It's much better to have a panic feeling beforehand, and then be calm when things happen than to be extremely calm beforehand and to get into a panic when things happen". The ability to remain calm in the heat of battle is something which Leinster will need this weekend more than anything as Toulouse are the aristocrats of European rugby.

Toulouse have won 17 domestic championships and four Heineken Cups. They are the reigning Heineken Cup champions, having disposed of Leinster in the semi-finals last year en route to the title. I was part of the Leinster squad that day and I remember the dressing room at half-time and the fatigue on every player's face, such was the physicality that we had faced over the first 40 minutes. We only lost 26-16 in the end but it felt like a hammering, such was their physicality.



ATMOSPHERE

I am convinced that Leinster can win. Leinster are at home and the Aviva will be packed with blue instead of red. There are only 4,000 French travelling over and it is up to every man, woman and child to create an atmosphere as special as we had for the Leicester and the England games.

Last season Leinster were defending the crown rather than chasing it and chasing it has always been easier with only Leicester having won it back to back. Leinster have been the form team in Europe this season but at the business end of the season, past form is worthless and it's about being the best team for that 80 minutes.

Johnny Sexton is fit to play this time, whereas last year he was injured, and he will be at the heart of everything positive that Leinster attempt. Last season Toulouse destroyed Leinster at the scrum, which probably led directly to the decision to employ Greg Feek as a scrum coach.

With his appointment and the emergence of Mike Ross as the outstanding scrummager in Europe this season, I don't see Toulouse getting the upper hand in this area and that will be a psychological advantage to Leinster.

The key players will be Sean O'Brien and Isa Nacewa, who were both shortlisted for Irish Rugby Player of the year this week, and Brian O'Driscoll, who always seems to produce on the biggest of occasions. Joe Schmidt, in his first year as head coach, will know Toulouse better than most, having spent four seasons as assistant coach at Clermont.

One of the most impressive things about his first season has been his ability to spot weaknesses in the opposition's defence and then design an attack that exploits it.



CONSISTENT

In games of this magnitude, there is usually only one score in it at the end and the difference is often who can score a try.

Having watched all of Leinster's matches this season and most of Toulouse's, I feel that Leinster's attacking shape is more consistent and they will be able to break the French down.

Win Saturday and we will be able to book the planes, trains and automobiles to Cardiff in late May!

Fingers crossed.


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