James Ryan explains how Leinster bested Saracens last year 1 year ago

James Ryan explains how Leinster bested Saracens last year

Leinster Rugby second-row James Ryan has said that his side need to play an unpredictable brand of rugby in their Champions Cup final with Saracens.

Leinster advanced to their fourth European Cup final this decade with a comprehensive 30-12 win over Saracens in the semi-finals. The province trounced this year's finalists in last year's quarter-final stage but Ryan is expecting a different challenge in this year's final in Newcastle.

"I thought in the quarter and the semi they were very ruthless and efficient," said Ryan.

"I think they only conceded three tries across both games so defensively they're so good. They're the best defensive team in the Premiership and on the ball they're class.

"They scored nine in the quarter and the semi so I think they're the in form team in Europe. They're unbeaten. Nobody else is so we're well aware it's going to need a season's best performance."

Leinster enjoyed a lot of success against Sarries last year with Leo Cullen's side running in three tries to one in a convincing 30-19 win at the Aviva Stadium.

One of the most impressive facets of Leinster's play over the last few seasons has been their ability to build phases and control possession but Ryan feels they're at their most dangerous when they're unpredictable.

"We just played Leinster rugby," Ryan said of last year's win.

"Our attack was really good, we had loads of variety in it. It was unpredictable and that's what we need to be. When you come up against a defence as good as Saracens, you can be anything but predictable against a team like that.

"Playing Leinster rugby, expressing ourselves and backing ourselves is what it's going to take."

If Leinster win they will become the first club in Europe to have won the competition five times and for Ryan, who attended previous finals as a fan, it would mean that much more to him lifting the trophy for a second time as a player.

"I was at the Millenium Stadium when we beat Northampton and then Twickenham when we beat Ulster. I was always a huge Leinster fan so I'm well aware of it, I know as a supporter how good that feels when your club is successful.

"It's slightly different being a player now but I'm well aware how much that means to the supporters of the club. Our fans have been unbelievable all year.

"I mentioned after the Toulouse game, the sea of blue we had driving in was unbelievable, there were people in blue lining the streets. It was like an international game."

James Ryan and Jack Carty were on hand to announce the nominees for the 2019 Zurich Players’ Player of the Year Award. The Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards, one of the biggest nights in Irish sport, will take place on Wednesday, 15th May, at the Clayton Hotel in Ballsbridge.