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Robbie Henshaw: Leinster will welcome La Rochelle’s physicality in Champions Cup final

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Robbie Henshaw knows what to expect from La Rochelle. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Robbie Henshaw knows what to expect from La Rochelle. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Robbie Henshaw knows what to expect from La Rochelle. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Leinster centre Robbie Henshaw is adamant that his side will not be overawed again by La Rochelle’s power game in Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup final, with tournament organisers hopeful there will be 60,000 supporters in attendance.

Leinster will travel to Marseille as favourites. However, having beaten Leo Cullen’s men in last season’s semi-final, La Rochelle head coach Ronan O’Gara will be quietly confident of causing another upset.

Henshaw was part of the Leinster team that came up short last year, but he won’t be daunted by the physical challenge that awaits from La Rochelle’s heavyweight midfielders Jonathan Danty and Levani Botia.

“I obviously respect every centre we play, we’ll do that, we analyse them, we know the threats that they have and we’ll have to nullify them early in our defence,” Henshaw said.

“But if we worry about ourselves and make sure we get our roles right, that will go a long way for us on the day.

“It will be a tough test and it will be physical, but the physicality is something that we walk towards and we welcome. We need to play a similar style to how we’ve played all year and that’s play to where all the space is.

“We know what they’re going to do,” the Ireland international added.

“They’re going to be aggressive off the line, they have a really good defensive system in terms of Ronan O’Gara, what he brought to Crusaders, that kind of hard-up defence. They give you space wide but they are quick to shut it down.

“It will make for an exciting game and one that our attack will have to be on. If turnovers happen, we’ve seen a lot of their tries come from turnovers, so we need to make sure we’re not giving the ball away and be really solid in that department.”

Leinster will name their team at midday tomorrow, with Tadhg Furlong (ankle) and James Lowe (shin) stepping up their recoveries to be passed fit.

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