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rog and roll 'The Champions Cup title is for you, for me it's a match' – Ronan O'Gara stays focused on La Rochelle mission

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La Rochelle coach Ronan O'Gara

La Rochelle coach Ronan O'Gara

La Rochelle coach Ronan O'Gara

Ronan O'Gara insists it's business as usual in La Rochelle this week, as he looks to help deliver the club's first Heineken Champions Cup.

La Rochelle will take on Toulouse in Saturday's decider at Twickenham, as O'Gara's men aim to buck the trend of having been beaten twice by their French rivals in this season's Top 14.

Just a point separates the two sides at the summit of the league table, yet form will be put to one side this weekend, as La Rochelle go in search of their first title, while Toulouse chase a record fifth.

For O'Gara, it's a chance to take another big step in his coaching journey, but the Munster and Ireland legend insists he is not getting side-tracked about what is at stake on Saturday.

“It’s a bit of a normal week,” the La Rochelle head coach said.

“The title of the Champions Cup is for you, for me it’s a match, an important match of course, but I can’t change how I behave this week. It’s just like normal.

“I was lucky to experience a lot of finals. It’s important to concentrate on our energy at 5pm on Saturday.

“There are not a lot of different things. The club doesn’t have the habit of playing Champions Cup finals, but this will be the first, and it won’t be the last.

“I don't want to change my role. I am the coach of Stade Rochelais and it’s a great pleasure to coach this group. I’m very proud, very excited. The club is trying to write a new history. The journey has a starting point and now is the time for this club.”

La Rochelle are sweating over the fitness of influential Fijian centre Levani Botia, who will be given plenty of time to prove his fitness.

Having dispatched Leinster in the semi-final, O'Gara and La Rochelle now have their sights set on upsetting the odds again against Toulouse.

“We have identified some weaknesses in the Toulouse team and we’ve identified some weaknesses in our team, so we’ve spent time watching and working on how we can perform well and identifying the opportunities for us on Saturday,” O'Gara added.

“They beat us three times, once in a friendly and twice in the Championship, but for me I’ve found that we’ve progressed a lot.

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“It’s not the same 23. It’s a different context completely but I respect the club with the best history in the Champions Cup and the best history in the Bouclier who we are up against. That’s the challenge.

“The team has improved and played very well against Leinster but, even so, it was far from perfect. It’s very important that the players take control, that’s to say, be a real team.”

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