Hungry Biarritz ready for battle

French teams have all too often displayed little in the way of appetite on the road in Europe but Biarritz are far from likely to fall into that category for the Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final against Leinster at the RDS today.

Coach Laurent Rodriguez has implored his team to ‘go to Dublin starved to death’ — it sounds much better in French — as the holders must retain this trophy to secure Heineken Cup action next season. It’s all or nothing for them, then. Feast or famine.

Minus key men such as prop Fabien Barcella and full-back Iain Balshaw they still have Imanol Harinordoquy, Dmitri Yachvili and Damien Traille in the spine of the side.

Their lowly status in the Top 14, where they sit 11th, is indicative of how they have been overtaken by clubs with greater resources but yet they remain, as Joe Schmidt warned, a fantastic cup team even if it is one with five 30somethings taking the first whistle.

They face a Leinster side for whom Sean O’Brien and Gordon D’Arcy have both fallen victim to calf problems but the absence of the latter allows Schmidt avoid a headache by utilising both his star tens.

Jonathan Sexton assumes the cockpit although Ian Madigan has been asked to start a game at 12. Biarritz will be belligerent and look to keep it tight. Defence is the key but the suspicion is that Leinster will have what it takes to rack up the points required.

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