Four-time European Cup winners Leinster Rugby will host fellow Irish province Ulster Rugby in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals on March 30, having topped Pool 1 with 25 points. Here we pick out five of their best players.
Hooker Cronin surprisingly leads the Heineken Champions Cup try-scoring list with six after the pool stages, taking his overall European tally to 21. The 32-year-old Irish international has been crucial to Leinster’s successful scrum this season as well as their driving maul and will be pivotal to Leinster’s chances if they are to clinch a record-breaking fifth European Cup.
The Ireland fly-half – who has amassed 681 points in European competition – is a vital cog in Leinster’s attack as well as their main goal-kicker. Sexton’s ability to control matches with his pinpoint kicking was crucial in the Irish province’s run to last year’s Bilbao final and his big-match experience will be important as Leo Cullen’s side attempt to reach the latter stages of the competition again.
Despite making just seven appearances in the Champions Cup, the flying wing has been a star in Leinster’s European success over the past two seasons. The New Zealander bagged crucial tries against Glasgow Warriors and Saracens last year, and has added another three to his tally this campaign, against Wasps and Bath Rugby. The 26-year-old sits sixth on the metres made this term as well.
The 21-year-old utility back has exploded on to the European scene in the last 18 months and played in Leinster’s 2018 final win over Racing 92 in Bilbao. He has continued that form into the current season, playing every minute of the Irish province’s Heineken Champions Cup campaign and scoring two tries, beating 14 defenders and making eight clean breaks in the process.
A ball-carrying machine, the 22-year-old lock burst on to the European stage last season and has never looked back. He boasts 80 tackles and 82 carries this campaign, as well as an outstanding win percentage in the competition of 93%, and plays a crucial role in Leinster’s power-packed scrum. The Ireland regular has already won one Heineken Man of the Match award this term.