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'Very pleasing' - Caelan Doris reacts as Leinster book Croke Park semi

By PA
Caelan Doris of Leinster after his side's victory in the Investec Champions Cup quarter-final match between Leinster and La Rochelle at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster captain Caelan Doris reflected on “a great feeling” after his team stormed into the Investec Champions Cup semi-finals with a 40-13 victory over holders La Rochelle.

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Leinster emphatically ended La Rochelle’s bid for a hat-trick of Champions Cup titles at the Aviva Stadium.

Ronan O’Gara’s team defeated Leinster in the last two finals by a combined margin of just four points, but their quest for silverware ended at the quarter-final stage this time around.

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“It’s a great feeling,” Doris told TNT Sports. “We have massive respect for them as a group of players and a team.

“We’ve had some immense battles against them over the last number of years and it is very pleasing to finally put in a performance like that and get a result like that.”

Leinster marched on in pursuit of a record-equalling fifth tournament triumph, and their semi-final will be at Dublin’s 82,000-capacity Croke Park in early May.

Wing James Lowe (2), scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park, flanker Ryan Baird and hooker Dan Sheehan scored tries, while fly-half Ross Byrne kicked three conversions and three penalties as Leinster never looked in danger of suffering another loss to their fierce rivals.

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But the quality of their display was built on strong defensive foundations – and Gibson-Park running the show – as La Rochelle failed to score a second-half point.

Doris added: “I think it was a great defensive display.

“You saw some of the shots that went in on some of their key ball-carriers, who have given good go-forward for them over the last couple of years, so it went a long way towards that performance.

“Jamison is unbelievable. He is a joy to play with.

“He keeps the tempo so high and he is so unpredictable but plays within our plan at the same time. The boys are all about running lines off him.

“It is a very rare opportunity to play at Croke Park in front of our own fans. What an exciting prospect, and we are looking forward to it massively.”

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Jon 23 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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