Leinster need to step up a gear in Champions Cup final

Bilbao (Spain) (AFP) –


Leinster were told Friday to step up a gear against French club Racing 92 if they want to win their fourth Champions Cup final.

"We have got to top our quarter-final and semi-final performance because we know we are going to have to go up another level to win tomorrow," Leinster coach Leo Cullen said ahead of Saturday's clash against Racing at Bilbao's San Mames stadium.

He said Racing were "a formidable bunch of players".

"Lots of very powerful players, a lot a very, very dangerous broken field runners," Cullen told a press conference.

"Just the power that Racing have in their squad and the depth of experience that they have as well.

"When you have Dan Carter on the bench it says it all really."

Carter will be hoping to bow out with a winner's medal when he brings the curtain down on his European rugby adventure at the Bilbao final.

Carter, 36, racked up a world record 1,598 points in 112 Tests for the All Blacks, with a winning percentage of 88.4 percent.

The former Crusader has two Rugby World Cups to his name and is an icon in world rugby.

Despite his age he is still a mighty force, even though he will be on the bench for the final with Springbok Pat Lambie given the nod as starter.

"We probably expected Lambie to start because he has done so well for them throughout the competition," said Jonny Sexton, the Ireland and Leinster fly-half.

But he said Carter would come on during the game and would be an enormous threat.

"Yes of course, he changed the quarter-finals for them against Clermont and also the game changed a lot when he came on against Munster," said Sexton.

"He is still obviously a world class player and I am sure he will be keen to make an impact when he comes on."

Leinster are unbeaten in European competition this season, with eight wins from eight including an impressive 30-19 quarter-final victory over 2017 winners Saracens and a 38-16 defeat of Scarlets in the last four.

But Sexton says the team will find out on Saturday how good they really are.

"We know we can get better and we feel that we need to get better tomorrow in a lot of areas," he said.

"That is what champion teams do and we will find out tomorrow if we can do that."