Monday 20 November 2017

2017 Saracens or Joe Schmidt's Leinster? Luke Fitzgerald gives surprising verdict in best team debate

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Former Leinster winger Luke Fitzgerald thinks that Mark McCall's current Saracens side are slightly better than Leinster's back-to-back winning Heineken Cup teams ahead of this weekend's Champions Cup final in Edinburgh.

Fitzgerald started Leinster's 2011 Heineken Cup final win over Northampton in Cardiff, while he missed 2012 decider with Ulster after undergoing neck surgery less than two weeks before the game.

The Ireland international won three European Cups, one European Challenge Cup and three Pro 12 titles in his 10 seasons in Leinster, however, in a hypothetical match between Leinster's Heineken Cup-winning sides and Saracens' current crop, the 29-year-old has McCall's Sarries side as a slight favourite.

#VIDEO The Left Wing LIVE - Luke Fitzgerald on his entente cordiale with Nigel Owens and the loss of Ruan Pienaar

Posted by Independent Sport on Monday, May 8, 2017

[23:42 mark for discussion on Leinster v Saracens]

"I do feel like they're just very, very complete across the park," Fitzgerald said on the Independent.ie's The Left Wing.

"It's a hard one to say. We had a great discussion about it and I just thought that it was really, really close in a couple of areas.

"You kind of half turned me a little bit when you were talking about [Gordon] D'Arcy and [Brian] O'Driscoll in the centres."

The Left Wing host Will Slattery was quick to point out that Leinster's midfield duo of Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy might be a bit too much to handle for the Saracens pair of Brad Barritt and Marcelo Bosch, but Fitzgerald pointed to Barritt and Saracens' defence as a possible point of difference between the two sides.

"He's a brilliant player, I think Brad Barritt is a little bit underrated," added Fitzgerald.

"I think in that defence it would be really smothering. I find it really hard to see how you beat this Saracens team, their pack is just unbelievable. 

"That's pretty much an English pack in there. They were missing George Kruis for large parts of the season as well but it's hard to say.

"Lots of impact at hooker as well with [Schalk] Brits on the bench, they have Schalk Burger on the bench, they have all sorts of guys.

"I just think that that defensive style would be really hard to beat. They just look like they squeeze teams out of it all the time. There's just no room to play.

"Maybe Johnny Sexton might have found somewhere but it's very hard to say."

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