Laussucq happy Brian O’Driscoll is not on Leinster teamsheet
Sergio Parisse has respect for opponents but feels Stade Francais can beat them
Christophe Laussucq: Stade Francais coach is not underestimating Leinster.
This pre-final gathering began with questions for interim Stade Francais coaches Christophe Laussucq and David Auradou about a surprising Leinster team. It’s not Leinster’s “classical” team now is it?
They hadn’t seen it. A French journalist handed Laussucq his notepad. He couldn’t read his writing (at least the translator expertly conveyed the farcical tone).
Those without French, or headphones, would have noticed his eyebrows rising: “McGrath? Healy’s on the bench . . .”
Jack McGrath will love that. They don’t know him, don’t rate the St Mary’s loosehead prop.
“We were waiting for Brian O’Driscoll,” said Laussucq, before back-tracking. “We are not too unhappy he is not there but let’s not underestimate this team. Heineken Cup champions at home. No D’Arcy, no O’Driscoll but still a good team.”
Completely oblivious to all this chatter was Stade’s captain, the wonderfully gifted Sergio Parisse, who was flicking through his phone. This wasn’t rudeness. Just the way he is. He did spark to life when quizzed about his affection for the Parisian club he has served since 2005. “A lot of players like their club, I love my club.”
Parisse must be sick of losing more than he wins for both club and country. This is their last hope of making it into next season’s Heineken Cup after an abysmal Top 14 campaign. They will be lifted by the Leinster team and past failures.
There was that Friday night at the Cardiff City stadium two years ago when former coach of both clubs Michael Cheika went ballistic on the sideline after Gonzalo Camacho’s insane 80th-minute try gave Harlequins the trophy.
In the process it robbed them of a seat at Europe’s top table. They also lost the 2001 European final to Leicester at Parc des Princes and Toulouse outmuscled them in 2005.
“I like Ireland,” said Parisse. having just spoken with his opposite number Jamie Heaslip. “I like playing here with Italy.
“We hear a lot of things about Leinster, about they are probably a better team than us but in same way we saw a lot of their matches, especially the last match against Glasgow and we see a team that we can beat, for sure.
“In any case, Leinster are still a great team. Even if O’Driscoll doesn’t play it will still be really tough, it is still Leinster, we will respect them.
“We know Jamie and Seán O’Brien are the two best backrows around and are really important to Leinster but we are not focused too much on them. We will try to stop them giving Leinster momentum but it is about playing our game.”