La Rochelle’s star winger Dillyn Leyds believes that Leinster will want to come out firing on all cylinders ahead of this weekend’s epic Heineken Champions Cup final in Dublin to make a statement.
Leyds believes the Vodacom United Rugby Championship loss to Munster this past weekend will only fuel Leo Cullen’s side’s fire and they will want to hit the French side early to make a massive statement of intent in the final.
"Like any team when you get beaten at home, especially in a knockout game, you take a bit of a hit," Leyds said in an EPCR press conference on Monday. "You want to come back firing shots early. You want to show maybe it was just a tough day as a team.
"We had similar situations this season in the Top 14 where we lost at home and the week leading up to the next game is all about training a bit of pride.
"They are a bunch of quality international players and they know how to react after a loss like that. I don’t think that with the final in a couple of days they will be focusing too much on what happened but how they can fix and react to this final."
Leyds, who has 10 caps for the Springboks, has been a star alongside fellow Bok Raymond Rhule at La Rochelle, and won the man of the match award as La Rochelle beat Leinster last year in the final.
He remembers the day fondly and wants to repeat the result and make it three victories from three games against the Irish powerhouse.
"I just had the initiative to play a bit more and I didn’t want to get into my shell. I think once I managed to get my hands on the ball quite early and get a good number of touches it gave me a bit of confidence to do that throughout the match," Leyds explained.
"It was a good day for me but I also think it was a good day for the team.
"Hopefully, from this weekend the same thing can happen, as a collective take the initiative and play a bit more rugby even though it is a final.We don’t want to go into our shells. We want to play the way we have been playing throughout the season."
Leyds remembers his first interaction with La Rochelle coach Ronan O’Gara and how “awkward” it was.
"I think it was pretty awkward for everyone involved because they were asking me questions about stuff. They were more concerned about the type of guy I was within the locker room and off the field.
"They were saying we know your playing ability, so it was just a general conversation of my interests, the Dillyn Leyds off the field. I think everyone in the rugby world knows that ROG is the kind of guy who always wants to win. Every little thing, every small detail, nothing is not important to him.
"That’s what he has brought to this club. All we want to do is win and have that feeling every single time. Whether it’s a little battle in training or whether it’s getting into the kick-chase line or something like that – I think that’s the kind of mindset that he has brought here.
"Yes, we can have fun as a group off the field, there are certain times that we can joke and have a laugh, but when it’s time to do your job, do your job, and do it to the best of your ability. The direction the club is going now, you can see the kind of players we are attracting, guys want to be a part of this, and he has obviously done a hell of a lot for the club.
"The players and everyone involved really enjoyed working with him. He has obviously a long-term deal to stay with the club, so hopefully as a group we can continue to work hard, not just for him, but for each other, and hopefully put the club in a position where we can continue to win trophies."
It is clear Leyds is enjoying his rugby right now, and if the stars align once more he may have another win, another trophy and perhaps even another man of the match award to celebrate.