Andrew Porter using ‘hurt’ of recent seasons as Leinster chase Champions Cup win

Andrew Porter says Leinster must harness the hurt of their recent European failures in a bid to break the cycle of falling agonisingly short in the Investec Champions Cup.

Leo Cullen’s men are preparing to host Northampton in the semi-finals of the competition following successive final losses to Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle during the past two seasons.

Leinster gained a modicum of revenge over the French side thanks to last month’s resounding 40-13 quarter-final success, which set up Saturday evening’s showdown with Saints at Croke Park in Dublin.

Prop Porter, who was part of the last Leinster team to be crowned European champions, in 2018, hopes to channel a string of “disheartening” experiences in order to end his province’s wait for continental glory.

“It’s all part of sport: you win some, you lose some,” said the 28-year-old.

“But it seems like we’re kind of in a cycle of getting so close yet so far the last couple of years.

“We’re definitely using those experiences, those losses to add to our armoury.

“You have to use those and leverage that hurt over the last few seasons.

“It’s great to say we’re a great team that’s been able to make it to a final but it’s quite disheartening at the same time that you get so far and have all the elements to win and you come up short on the day.”

Leinster blew a 23-7 lead to lose 27-26 to La Rochelle on home soil 12 months ago on the back of conceding a last-gasp try to the same opponents in a 24-21 defeat in the 2022 final in Marseille.

The Dublin club were also beaten by La Rochelle in the 2021 semi-finals after finishing runners-up to Saracens in the 2019 final as defending champions.

Due to the Aviva Stadium hosting this year’s Europa League final, Croke Park is set to stage a first Champions Cup fixture since Leinster registered a memorable 25-6 semi-final victory over provincial rivals Munster in May 2009.

Ireland loosehead Porter, who aged 13 was among a crowd of 82,208 that day, is relishing an “incredibly poignant” appearance at the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).

“It’s a stadium steeped in culture and a lot of history,” he said.

“Obviously the majority of Ireland play GAA and hurling, it’s huge here, it’s our national sport.

“You’re playing in a national stadium that means so much to a lot of this country and definitely to us as a team.

“I know from hearing stories from a lot of GAA players how important it is to be able to play there and seize the opportunity when you are playing there because it’s something special.

“It’s incredibly poignant just being able to say you played in Croke Park. It will definitely be a day I will always remember.

“It is a big occasion but we’re going to play the game, not the occasion.”

Leinster pair Jimmy O’Brien (neck) and Garry Ringrose (shoulder) are in contention to return, while fellow Ireland international Hugo Keenan (hip) will be assessed.

Harlequins travel to Toulouse in the other semi-final, with the final scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 25 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.


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