Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Stade looking to boss cup final

Isaac Boss will not be taking Stade Francais lightly
Isaac Boss will not be taking Stade Francais lightly

Isaac Boss expects Stade Francais to show no fear when they chase Amlin Challenge Cup final glory against Leinster at the RDS on Friday night.

Boss and company will start as firm favourites for further European success following Heineken Cup triumphs in three of the past four seasons. The battle for 2013 Heineken silverware is an all-French affair between Clermont Auvergne and Toulon at Dublin's Aviva Stadium on Saturday, but Leinster can still claim a reasonable consolation prize.

"They have got a very strong team," Boss said. "They haven't done as well in the league as they should, but I think they have got a real focus on this Amlin tournament. They have won twice away from home, beating Perpignan and Bath, so they are definitely not scared of coming here. It's going to be a lot tougher than Biarritz were."

Leinster parade four of their six British and Irish Lions for this summer's Australia tour, but centre Brian O'Driscoll misses out through injury.

The game is also the last European occasion as Leinster chief for new Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, with his final game being next weekend's RaboDirect PRO12 final against Ulster.

"We don't go into a game half-hearted, and we have put everything into this Amlin competition because that is the way the team plays," Boss said. "We are gunning for Stade Francais."

Stade, who were beaten in the 2011 Challenge Cup final by Harlequins, have defied erratic league form - they finished 10th in this season's Top 14 - to gain another crack at the trophy.

"They (Leinster) have got fewer weaknesses than most teams," Stade's Italy Test skipper Sergio Parisse said. "But I lived a beautiful experience this season with Italy against Ireland when we were not favourites and we won that Six Nations match.

"It would be wonderful to win the trophy and I just hope those who play in the final earn a lot of experience from the occasion.

"I don't know if we are going to win, but we want to be proud of our performance."

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