Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global
New Zealand New Zealand
France France

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.


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.

Video Spacer

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.

Video Spacer

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!

Investec Champions Cup
20 - 17
All Stats and Data

“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.”


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.



Join free



Trending on RugbyPass


As part of a series of planned improvements, we will need you to reset your RugbyPass password from 24/07/24 to continue commenting on articles.

You don’t need to change anything until that time.

Thank you,


1 Comment
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.

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

Wonton 6 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

One game against Fiji is not enough to show that a player is ready to play the likes of South Africa. Spreading the ball wide too much increases the risk of turnovers and we turned the ball over 20 times against Fiji which is a lot more than what we did in the two England tests. We actually turned the ball over the same amount of times (20) against England in the 2019 semi final which we lost. Fiji didn’t make us pay for those turnovers but other teams will. In the 2nd test against England this year we had 100% success rate on attacking rucks. That’s the first time the AB’s have achieved this since the 2019 opening game of the RWC against South Africa. South Africa won last years RWC and Jesse Kriel did not pass once. The days of the Conrad Smith type centre might be over. Also Conrad Smith debuted in 2004 but he did not become an incumbent until Nonu did also in 2008. As for Rieko Ioane he and Jordie Barrett put in some very strong midfield hits in the 2nd test forcing turnovers several times. Rieko Ioane hasn’t played wing in years. If Proctor is moved to 13 then the best I think Ioane can hope for is an impact player off the bench. He does not have the aerial game of Caleb Clarke or the workrate of Tele’a for 11 and going to be selected over Jordan at 14. However its much too early to replace Rieko with Proctor. Rieko was excellent in the knock out rounds of the RWC. All Proctor has to show on his test CV is a good game against Fiji.

25 Go to comments
Nick 7 hours ago
How 'gazelle' Nick Frost thawed the hearts of Wallaby fans at Suncorp

Its almost like you read my comment on the other site on sunday morning Nick - you flagged all the same examples! 😝 Frost was motm for mine. That eg in the 56th minute in particular impressed me, nothing but sheer effort and a dupont/smith-like tracking line behind the D. Surely an effort like that from frost marries perfectly with that quote from schmidt at the start of the year about effort and work rate being 70-80% and talent is just the icing on top… What it also showed though was the players not making that effort, in that example he goes past both valetini and ikitau, and in the eg that finished with valetini scoring hunter paisami barely breaks a canter to support the break. And then there was the chase from wright and lancaster for the 2nd georgian try! One blemish - at kickoff I saw frost miss or get bumped off a few tackles and I felt like I saw what has been holding his selection back. I think because he is so big and is trying to get low to tackle, he seems to dip his head and ends up losing his balance or ability to adjust and ends up missing or making a soft hit. I think in the first 2 minutes he misses or makes 2-3 soft tackles, but you could clearly see the work rate and desire! He (the pod) also missed a kick restart or two? Also very happy to see harry wilson back in the fold. What impressed me from him wasn’t all the usual stuff he is known for, but all the other bits that usually let him down. He looked surprisingly good in the air at lineout time, physical at the breakdown, and good in the maul peeling off 3 georgians for one of the maul tries. Id have frost, skelton, wright as my 4-6 with LSL and wilson on the bench. i’m once again unconvinced by tom wirght - he was very good game 1, but game 2-3 he was back to more rocks than diamonds. There is no real other player to usurp him really so he stays in the team for now but I think Joe should put kellaway wherever he serves the team best and wright can be moved around him. Did donno do enough to overtake noah? My gut says no. They clearly had a plan to attack more so he looked better in that regard because he just had more opportunity, but they looked better off tate (who had a v good game also) then they did off donno.

31 Go to comments
TRENDING 'Won't win World Cups like that': Rassie Erasmus on the Andre Esterhuizen red card Erasmus on the Andre Esterhuizen red card