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“We have every fighting chance of winning it”-Andrew Porter dreaming of Champions Cup glory

Leinster and Ireland star Andrew Porter believes now is the time for his side to finally clinch the Champions Cup, after years of hurt.

The Irish province have fallen agonisingly short in the past two seasons, with a last-gasp try from La Rochelle snatching the title out of their hands on both occasions.

This year will be different though, with Leinster scratching that two-year itch with a convincing 40-13 win over their adversaries in the quarter-finals. That should fill the URC leaders with bags of belief, and Porter feels this year is as good as any to finally lift the trophy that has alluded them for so long.

“We have every fighting chance of winning it this year,” he said. “We have incredible belief as a team across the board in what we can do.”

He added: “We’ll be looking at Northampton and looking at the occasion that Croke Park is to play in. It’s as good a year as any to go out and win it.”

The Croke Park effect

Croke Park-Credit: IMAGO

As Porter alluded to, it will be some occasion at the 82,500 capacity Croke Park on Saturday. The game against Northampton will also be the first time the stadium has hosted a club rugby union game since 2009, with Leinster also taking part in that fixture against arch-rivals Munster that day.

“It’s hard to put into words really the significance of playing in a stadium like this. It’s such a decorated stadium in terms of who have played there before us and obviously the history involved with the stadium too. It’ll be a very proud moment.”

Whilst it’ll be a huge occasion for the majority of the Leinster players, Porter knows the challenge that lies ahead of his side.

Northampton come into the game in great form. They have won 9 of their past 11 games in all competitions, and are currently unbeaten in the Champions Cup.

“We’re going to play the game not going to play the occasion. We’re just going to go out there and do what we do best and that’s play a good brand of rugby, which we have been doing all season.”

“So close yet so far”-Andrew Porter reflects on two back-to-back final losses

Andrew Porter in action-Credit: IMAGO

Andrew Porter in action-Credit: IMAGO

Leinster have been arguably the best club team in the world for some time now, and have made four of the last six Champions Cup finals.

This looks great on paper, however the famous trophy has alluded them on three of those seasons. These losses will, of course, hurt Porter and Leinster as a whole, but the prop said his side will use it as motivation.

“We’re in a cycle of getting so close, yet so far. We’re definitely using those experiences and those losses as things to add to our armoury. You have to use those and leverage that kind of person over the last few seasons and use it to a final, but it’s quite disheartening at the same time that you get so far and you know you have everything in you, all the kind of elements to win and then you come up short in the day.”

Last year in particular would have left a sour taste in the mouth. Leinster led 17-0 after 19 minutes at the Aviva, but a late La Rochelle comeback saw the French side lift their second title in two years; and Porter said this ‘home’ final loss hurt a bit more.

“That one definitely hurt a bit more. It was technically a home final for us and in front of our home fans and obviously getting off to such a great start and not being able to capitalise.

He added: “They were a great team so it’s letting them back into the game and then playing their way back to a game and it obviously hurt a lot more.”