Toulouse lock Richie Arnold says they will head to Dublin this weekend with a lot of confidence after seeing off Clermont Auvergne 47-44 in a top-of-the-table Top 14 clash on Sunday.
He has been getting advice ahead of the showdown with Leinster from his twin brother Rory, who played for Australia against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium. The identical twins, both 6’ 10”, played together at the Brumbies, but Richie moved to Japan last season and then came to Toulouse in December as a medical joker.
While he has been in France just a few months he says the buzz around the city is driving them on, as fans of ‘les rouge et noir’ sense that the glory days are on the way back. Stade Toulousain have won the Heineken Champions Cup four times and 12 of their 19 French titles came in a glory spell from 1985 to 2012, with seven barren years now fuelling the drive for success.
“I didn’t really know what to expect when I got here. Obviously, I was familiar with the wonderful history of the club and its heritage. It’s a class club and I found it easy to settle in,” said the 28-year old from Wagga Wagga.
“There has been a little bit of a lull with the club in the past few years, relative to all the success prior to that, so it’s easy to appreciate why supporters are getting excited.
Over 32,000 fans witnessed Sunday’s 10-try thriller against Clermont at Le Stadium, with Toulouse coming from behind to increase their lead at the summit of the Top 14. Arnold said they have been able to mix it in Europe and at home, given the strength of their squad and that success in one competition is driving confidence in the other.
“We will take a lot of confidence from the win, especially having had two men in the bin. We know it will be a different test in Dublin, but this was a good way to prepare for it. There are a lot of similarities between Clermont and Leinster, good shape to both sides. It’s going to be a massive occasion and we are all looking forward to it. They have class players everywhere, we know we are going to have to be at our best, but we have a very good side as well.”