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How 'goosebump tone-setter' has Fin Smith set for ‘hostile’ Leinster

By Liam Heagney
Northampton's Fin Smith in Champions Cup quarter-final action (Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images)

Youthful out-half Fin Smith believes his Investec Champions Cup semi-final week got off to the perfect start with a history lesson about Northampton becoming the first English club side to play at Croke Park, the home of Gaelic sport in Ireland, when they clash with Leinster on Saturday.

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Saints will visit the 82,300-capacity Dublin stadium, which is steeped in national symbolism as the site of the 1920 Bloody Sunday massacre that took place during the Irish War of Independence.

Ahead of the game, Northampton’s Irish strength and conditioning coach Eamonn Hyland gave a presentation on its background to the squad on Monday and it left the soon-to-be 22-year-old feeling goosebumps.

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Ireland legend Gordon D’Arcy on the best team in the world debate between Boks and Ireland

Ireland legend Gordon D’Arcy believes fatigue might be a factor when Ireland head to South Africa later this year.

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Ireland legend Gordon D’Arcy on the best team in the world debate between Boks and Ireland

Ireland legend Gordon D’Arcy believes fatigue might be a factor when Ireland head to South Africa later this year.

“I was pretty moved by the lesson on Croke Park and was sitting there with goosebumps – which I was not expecting on a Monday morning. It was a great tone-setter for the week,” he explained.

“Eamonn is a proud Irishman and he did a real good job of it. He is not the type of guy who usually talks in meetings, but he has earned himself another slot if he wants it. It was very impressive!

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“It was a real eye-opener for the history and how hostile it is probably going to be. But it was good to find that out at the start of the week rather than when I am taking my first kick at goal!

“It’s going to be hostile and tough against a great side. We are going to need each other and need to stay tight. If there are 23 of us who believe, that’s all we care about.”

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Smith, who joined Northampton in October 2022 following the financial collapse of Worcester Warriors, starred on his previous trip to Ireland, kicking Northampton to a crucial 26-23 pool win over Munster in Limerick in January.

The Saints had lost hooker Curtis Langdon to a red card approaching the interval at Thomond Park over 14 weeks ago but their match-winning response – which included 14 second-half points from the boot of Smith to add to his 18th-minute conversion – was enough for the visitors to clinch victory.

That secured them home advantage in their round-of-16 clash with Munster at Franklin’s Gardens, a game they won 24-14 before defeating the Bulls the following weekend 59-22 in a home quarter-final.

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1 Comment
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Paul 82 days ago

‘War of independence’. Such a grand name for a few skirmishes. Where were all the great battles of this ‘war’ ?

Smith got goosebumps as he was being emotionally manipulated, another mushroom.

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Wonton 6 hours ago
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Nick 7 hours ago
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