Brian O'Driscoll names his three favourites for the Champions Cup
“I see the winner out of the three of them”
The curtain came down on the pool stages of the Heineken Champions Cup at the weekend – with just sixteen teams now left in club rugby's biggest competition.
All three Irish provinces qualified from their pools, with two of them set to meet each other in the last 16 when Leinster host Ulster at the Aviva, in what promises to be thrilling inter-provincial showdown.
Two-time champions Munster are also in the last 16 despite their loss to Toulouse, but face a difficult trip to South Africa to take on the Sharks in their knockout clash.
Former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll knows exactly what it takes to be crowned champions of Europe, having won multiple titles with Leinster, and he reckons the winner of this year's prize will be one of three teams...
“La Rochelle, Toulouse and Leinster - I see the winner out of the three of them,” O'Driscoll said on BT Sport.
“I am always wary of La Rochelle. They are going about their business quietly.”
Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio, however, believes Leinster are the outright favourites to claim a fifth star.
“You’ve got to say Leinster. They are scoring 37.5 points per game on average,” he said.
“With the final in Dublin, they are the favourites, come on.”
But O'Driscoll reckons his former side have a tendency to come undone when they are pitted against the more “powerful” teams in Europe.
“You thought who is going to put it up to them and then they looked human and again it’s against one of the big powerful teams in Europe,” O'Driscoll added.
“If you are looking for some sort of Achilles heel, where they have come unstuck in the past, it’s been against big opposition, Saracens, La Rochelle. They found it tough against Toulouse as well.
“They are definitely going to have to work on their defensive maul. They have had a little bit of weakness there. They are going to have to keep their discipline, so teams don’t have opportunity to kick into that five metre channel and maul them over.
“You’ve got to bring your power game against Leinster, stop them in the collision zone and slow their ruck ball down.”