Leinster - Toulouse preview: Battle of the beanpoles in Dublin

The two teams know each other well having already met in the pool stages of this competition.

Devin Toner of Leinster looks on during a Champions Cup match. Pic: David Rogers/Getty
Devin Toner of Leinster looks on during a Champions Cup match. Pic: David Rogers/Getty

Both won their home games, Leinster by a margin, Toulouse by a point. That 28-27 win back in October was the first European defeat for the Dubliners since Clermont bested them two seasons back in the semi-finals of the 2016-17 Champions Cup.

With the match played at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, there is no question that Leinster will start as favourites but they meet a Toulouse side that has stirred up memories of past glories with the way they have attacked from all corners in this competition and others, including in the quarter-final at Racing 92.

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Only last weekend against Clermont, Toulouse won a ding-dong battle, bouncing back late in the game despite having Joe Tekori in the sin-bin for a high tackle that many thought deserving of red rather than yellow. Tekori is a lock by trade and training but he will be sporting the number seven shirt tomorrow, all 130 kgs of him, which gives you an indication of where Toulouse expect the match to be won and lost. No one doubts the Samoan’s physical presence although his mobility and turnover skills will be tested.

Toulouse also field the tallest second row combination in world rugby: Australian Richie Arnold stands 6’ 10” and Scotland’s Richie Gray a mere 6’ 9”.

They are up against a canny operator in Leinster’s Devin Toner, another 6’ 10” giant of a man whose all-round skills have not always been appreciated.

“I was always good in the lineout but [they] didn’t really see what I offered [elsewhere],” said Toner, pictured. “The last few years, starting with Ireland and Joe [Schmidt], people have seen it.

“The first five or six years, I used to look up on forums what people thought of me, the amount of shite that you’d see and people calling you out and stuff. And it’s that time of my career that I learnt to block it all out.”