Interview with James Ryan: 'We are excited to face Toulouse'

Interview with James Ryan: 'We are excited to face Toulouse'

James Ryan has admitted that he and the Leinster squad are "excited" about the prospect of facing a strong Toulouse side in the semi-finals of the Champions Cup this weekend.

Leinster beat the Top 14 side 40-17 in last year's semi-final, but the Toulouse side of this year is much improved from their last encounter.

Leo Cullen's Leinster has hit top form in the United Rugby Championship and in this year's Champions Cup, but this stage of the season is where the Irish province is really tested.

Last year, after Leinster's win over Toulouse, they lost the final to La Rochelle. They then lost the semi-final of the URC playoffs to the Vodacom Bulls.

The all-conquering Irish province has swept away every side in Europe this year, but Ryan, who played in the statement win last year, believes that Leinster will face a very different Toulouse side this weekend when they meet in the Aviva on Saturday.

"It will be a very, very tough game. You see how good Toulouse are, like some of the world-class players they have in their squad. That includes the likes of Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack," said Ryan to the Irish Post in an exclusive interview.

"We are looking forward to it. It's another opportunity to play another knockout game in the Aviva. Those days are always special to be involved as a Leinster rugby player.

"We can't wait for it, but it is definitely going to take our very, very best to get a result there. You know we beat them last year, but they will be better than they were, and we are excited."

As mentioned already, Leinster will have to deal with the threat of facing Dupont, the golden boy of French and world rugby this weekend. Ryan broke down what it was like to play against the "world-class" Dupont as a player.

"Well, obviously he is amazing as a player," added Ryan. "He is world-class, and to be honest, I don't know any weakness to his game really. He is deceptively strong as well. He's a small enough man, but you know he's pretty stocky as well.

"For a scrum-half as well, he's pretty good around the tight parts of the game. You know the ruck and close quarters, but I mean yeah, he is the heartbeat of the Toulouse team and French team really, and everything seems to run through him."

Leinster's game against Toulouse starts at 3pm later on this evening. The game is live on RTE.