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Eric Miller: Leinster can Lord it over Brive as Exiles lie in wait

My imagination has clearly been working overtime. Not unlike the players themselves, as a person whos works mainly outdoors, much has been hampered by the recent snowy weather.

On a positive note, I'm sure it has given many of us with children a chance to bond a little more and slide down some hills - I am still trying to get my three-year-old to stop saying "Happy Christmas daddy".

Being stuck indoors for parts of the last few weeks has had its benefits.Whilst I climbed the walls on most days, I did get the chance to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy again, something that I had been meaning to get into over the Christmas.

I watched the extended versions of each - 12 hours in all - and I could not take my eyes off the TV.

Granted, it's not everyone's cup of tea, but as I reflect back on some of the battles in the series, I could draw some comparisons with the present state of affairs from a Leinster context. Now this is where i may lose a few of you.

At the end of the second film of the trilogy, The Two Towers, the scene is set at Helm's Deep where the second biggest battle of the series takes place.

The dark forces of Sauron are gathering to storm the well defended castle of the horse king Theodyn.

Not unlike like the last few weeks, a temporary calm fills the air in anticipation of a big event, but all are aware that things are stirring beneath the surface.

Aragorn, the potential future king of men and ally of Theodyn, knows that if his people lose this battle, then all hope will be lost forever to the evil army.

He also does not know whom or what to expect from his foe at this stage.

Ultimately, in the back of his mind, he knows that the even bigger final threat from the dark forces awaits at the city Minas Tirith which takes place in the final movie, but for now he cannot take his eye of the ball as everything rests on this initial onslaught.

Brive travel to Dublin today as somewhat of an unknown quantity.

There has been much talk about the final showdown against London Irish next weekend, but Brive by all accounts are a vastly different propositon than the team that was comfortably beaten in October.

A new management is in place and their recent results in the French league, which coincidently have not been affected by the weather, demonstrates that a difficult hurdle remains before the Blues even contemplate next week.


It's quite possible that they will send a second string side across the pond, however not unlike Castres, who had seemingly lost interest by the time they played us this time last year, managed to upset the apple cart.

The squad you would think are bursting at the seams and will be keen not to lose at home again at least for the forseeable future.

A loss would be a fatal blow to our chances of qualification and Michael Cheika and his men know every game is a final from now on in. Leinster will welcome back two of their warriors in Shane Jennings and Jonny Sexton.

I for one have no doubt that the latter will pick up from where he left off at the end of November.

He has such a good head for a man of his age, as he is to earn his 50th European Cap at 24 years of age only underlines that fact.

For Jennings, the game is also key for him to find his fitness and form leading in to the final week.

Whilst I have enjoyed some crisp winter days of late, the novelty has now worn off.

You can see what the recent inactivity has done to me, but I am glad to be back on the bandwagon once again.

Leinster and Munster are both coming in to form at the right time and potentially it could be the most memorable tournament in years if qualification for the latter stages go to form.

Along with the Irish, a Paris final would bring the best out of the French sides that make it to the last eight.

Let the battles commence.