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'This will define our season', says Gopperth ahead of trip to Castres

Leinster’s out-half insists he’s happy to be kept guessing in his out-half battle with Ian Madigan.

Gopperth on his way to training with Devin Toner.
Gopperth on his way to training with Devin Toner.
Image: INPHO

THERE IS NO flinching in Jimmy Gopperth’s poker face. Not even a flicker.

It’s the same expression, and much the same answer, he’s given ever since he arrived in Leinster and began challenging Ian Madigan as the heir to Jonathan Sexton’s number 10 jersey.

“I’m really enjoying it,” the Kiwi is the Kiwi’s opinion of his competition with Ian Madigan, “I think is pushes us both to makes sure we are the best we can be.

“I think Mads and I complement each other very well in whoever starts and whoever comes on. It is competition, that’s why we like it and it is best for the team.”

An experienced operator, Gopperth has barely put a foot wrong since joining the eastern province.

Stinger

Saturday night he came off the bench with Leinster 8 – 3 down to Connacht. A low stinger of a penalty kick steadied the ship for the visitors, the first step in on the way to a 13 – 0  scoreline while he was on the field. Even after a month of Madigan getting the nod and the prospect of an even tougher away trip to come this weekend, Gopperth won’t be drawn.

Despite some iffy form since their rout of Northampton in early December Leinster remain well and truly on course this season, sitting just three points off leaders Munster in the Pro12 and safe in the knowledge that two wins will see them through to the Heineken Cup quarter-finals. Of course, anything less could quickly turn a derailment.

“This will define our season. We want to be in the top eight of the Heineken Cup and this is going to be the first step of two to make sure Leinster are right there.”

Gopperth will most likely be told today whether he is the man chosen to pull the strings for the visitors in Stade Pierre Antoine. Yesterday, a full six days out from kick-off, he was already visualising what needed to be done.

“We’ve got to get quickly onto the ball because they have got some good poachers as well. They have pretty big men. They are going to counter-ruck us pretty hard. The name of the game is going to be physicality and we are going to see bundles of it.”

He added: “We’ll have to see the weather conditions, how the pitch is. There is going to be a lot of passion out there from both sides. The first quarter will be about feeling each other out and hopefully we can get the first score. Whoever scores first is going to relax a little bit more and going to be able to play their own game.”

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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