Keo.co.za spoke to Ollie le Roux about the European Cup final as well as the Lions series.
Le Roux has helped out Leinster when injuries arose this season and as an insider he has obvious insight into the squad. Le Roux’s propping partner CJ van der Linde has been ruled out with an ailment for the final at Murrayfield on Saturday and he believes this will have an adverse effect on his team’s chances against Leicester, who were crowned English champions this weekend.
‘CJ is incredible,’ Le Roux told keo.co.za. ‘I’ve only scrummed against him once and that was enough for me. He’s an absolute monster, people don’t understand.
‘He’s been really unlucky with injuries and it’s a pity because with him there the Boks could’ve smashed the Lions.’
Although Leinster will be without their first-choice tighthead and Leicester are supremely confident at the moment, the Irish team’s domination of Munster in the semi-final would have boosted confidence. The Munster pack are expected to form the nucleus of the Lions’ heavies, and Le Roux had some apt advice for the Boks.
‘Leicester are very tough, they remind me a lot of the Bulls,’ said Le Roux. ‘Along with them, Munster, and Toulouse, they are the toughest games I’ve played here. It will be a physical onslaught - it’s different to the Super 14 and the basketball played there - there will a massive forward battle.
‘In the semi against Munster we realised you can’t play wide against them, something the Boks should avoid as well. We just kept the ball in front of our forwards and when we had it we kept it close to our pack. They are similar to the Sharks, they wear you down and play off turnovers and mistakes, but we mustn’t give them any chances,’ he said.
Le Roux was on hand to congratulate team-mates Brian O’Driscoll and Jamie Heaslip when they were selected for the Lions. The former Bok prop believes the hosts should be favourites, but warned against underestimating the Lions.
‘These guys are so passionate, they were crying when they got picked for the Lions. The Lions will be strong and we have to be on our game, but if we can match their physicality, we can dominate.
‘My only worry is picking John Smit at No 3. John is a great player and should be our first-choice hooker, but tighthead is very different. If John plays there, it will put so much pressure on the entire team. Tighthead is all about an attitude thing - having that mongrel - and having played with and against John, he doesn’t have that.’
Apart from the Premiership final, where Danie Coetzee’s London Irish lost 10-9 to Leicester, the French Top 14 league stages came to a close.
The play-offs to be staged on 29 May should witness much South African representation. Brent Russell’s Clermont hammered Dax 73-3 and he will face familiar foes in Shaun Sowerby, Gaffie du Toit and Daan Human when they play Toulouse in Bordeaux. Gerrie Britz, Phillip Burger and Steve Meyer will line-up for log leaders Perpignan, who take on Noel Oelschig’s Stade Francais in Lyon.
By Grant Ball