Champions Cup: Leinster ‘still hurting’ after last season’s final defeat to La Rochelle

Colin Newboult

Leinster number eight Caelan Doris admits that he still struggles to watch their disappointing Champions Cup final defeat to La Rochelle in 2022.

The Irish province went into the game as heavy favourites but ultimately succumbed to a last minute Arthur Retiere try as they went down 24-21 in Marseille.

Leo Cullen’s men are looking to right those wrongs by claiming their fifth title and they continue their 2022/23 European campaign with a match against Gloucester.

In the build-up to their clash with the Cherry and Whites, the players have been shown clips of that showpiece event against La Rochelle.

Bleak and silent

“It still hurts seeing them,” Doris told reporters. “There is quite a vivid memory of the dressing room after and how bleak and silent it was, and not wanting to experience that again.

“Mainly set-piece (clips) we saw (on Monday), but there’s been different ones in the past.

“Usually, it would be a certain clip, if there’s a valid point in the clip that keeps coming up rather than just the game as a whole. This game has come up a few times.”

Doris believes that there is one benefit from watching the clips as they show much the team has progresses since that clash.

“It probably shows how we have evolved or where we can still evolve. It’s also a reminder of what happened last season,” he said.

Leinster’s ultimate goal is to win a trophy but Doris knows that there is plenty of work to do before they can even think about that, starting with their Champions Cup game against Gloucester.

Tougher challenge

“Our north star is getting a trophy, which we didn’t do last year in either competition, so there is still quite a bit of hurt from that and that’s a big driver for us,” Doris added. “But also, it’s going to be a different team; it’s away from home; it’s a completely different challenge.

“It’s a blank slate in a way, so we probably haven’t even reviewed the last game too much because it’s going to be very different.

“All those factors come into it, so I think it’s going to be a much tougher challenge. Looking at their back-row in particular, they’ve so much depth and quality. (Ruan) Ackermann, Ben Morgan, (Albert) Tuisue, Jordy Reid – a lot of quality. It’s an exciting one for us as a back-row.”

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