Fitzgerald determined to 'get in Chabal's face'
LUKE FITZGERALD is making no bones about Leinster's approach to curbing the influence of Sebastien Chabal this weekend -- he says they are going to "put him back on his arse".
Racing Metro last week rested their bearded behemoth ahead of tomorrow's Heineken Cup opener and, refreshed, the No 8 will represent one of many threats to Joe Schmidt's side at the RDS.
The star-studded Parisians make their Heineken Cup debut in Dublin and, like any team he plays for, it is Chabal who will grab the attention. And it's not just because of his imposing looks.
Stopping Chabal was always Munster's first point of call when he played for Sale Sharks at Thomond Park and Fitzgerald and his team-mates know that halting the talismanic French star's momentum will be one of the keys to victory.
"He's a quality player," the Lions winger said. "Certainly a very talented guy and maybe he gets that extra kudos because of the beard and he stands out a little bit more than other players.
"He's someone we'd be looking to definitely target and take out of the game, because if we give him ground he'll certainly take advantage and put them on the front foot. We'll be looking to get into his face and put him back on his arse really.
"He's kind of like a talisman for them really, so it's definitely a guy when you're playing against you look to target him. If he gets the better of you then they'll be on the front foot, whereas if you get in amongst them and spoil it a bit you can get on top."
Forwards coach Jono Gibbes confirmed that Leinster will target the No 8, but he reckons that even if they stop Chabal, Metro will have a host of other players to step up to the plate, which the Sharks lacked in 2006 and 2009.
"The difference there is that Sale probably didn't have seven other massive dudes to do it for them," he said. "So Munster were a bit smart, (saying), 'right, get this guy'. Whereas I think Racing are a little bit better equipped than that Sale team.
"Certainly he's one guy we've talked about, going through and doing a bit of personnel analysis.
"But they can move the point of attack away from just one guy. But he does have a pretty cool beard."