He will happily lift the Champions Cup after the Blue Grand Slam. Jonathan Dante will be one of La Rochelle’s XXL assets against Ogre, Leinster, in the European Cup final on Saturday, May 28th. Meanwhile, Parisian Tito is also looking forward to his former club Stade Frances’ 25th day of the Top 14 in Defland, this Saturday (5.15pm). Capital competition in the final stage of the qualifying competition. . The International Center trusts RMC Sport.
One week after qualifying for the Champions Cup final, you will see your former club again this Saturday. What emotions can one imagine in such a short time …
That’s a lot of information at once! I have the potential to play in my first Champions Cup final, which is very special to me. Arrival at Deflandre from Paris. What’s more against a Stade Francis who no longer plays anything. I know this team by heart. When she is seamless, she is capable of anything. You need to prepare for this match before thinking about the final.
You know, the Steded Franchise often gives La Rochelle and Deflandre a hard time
Every time I played here with Paris we didn’t go much. I think we won once (14-27 in 2018-2019). These are always absolutely special matches. Also, there, they have very important players in the workforce and they will leave them. They want to thank them and end the season well so that they can have a good end to the season.
The joy associated with the Champions Final will almost certainly make you forget that there is no room for error against La Rochelle against Paris and then against Season Lyon in June.
It is always difficult to be in the top 14 of this Champions Cup final between the two most important games of the season. But that means we are in a perfectly favorable situation. That’s exciting. The season is likely to end in three weeks, we do not expect. We will work to make it longer than that.
Have you exchanged these last players with your former Paris teammates?
I asked them when it was coming! I might go to the hotel on Friday to say hello to them. But not more. Because the next day we have an important match. Anyway, it’s nice to see friends. I received a lot of messages from friends and coaches in Paris. But Gonzalo does not (Note by Qusada, Manager and Editor). He must be angry with me, I do not know why (smile).
How far have you come since leaving Paris in the summer of 2021, right?
For some time in my career I was still at a standstill. I’m so excited, I’m about 30, and I realize that things are going so fast. I enjoy every moment, 200%, because I think I am experiencing the best seasons of my career.
“I’m not satisfied. For a few seasons, without winning anything, without playing in the finals, I want to take full advantage of it. Restarting in July, without experiencing it, it’s fragile.
Can we describe your change of status in blue as “amazing” as in La Rochelle?
It went so fast! The reason I come here is to pass a course. It was either abandoned or doubled. What’s more to me is that clubs have not changed or got to know other teams. It was hard, but I need to see what I can do elsewhere to challenge myself and try to get the best out of myself.
Leaving your comfort zone, in a way …
I had a realization when I signed here. I could not see the clubs changing because they were not on the level. In this case, with the competition, if anything, I’m not on the level, I’m not on the field. My primary goal was the way I played and performed. At that time the French team arrived and it allowed me to continue to progress and play big matches. Today, I would say I’m happy, but not enough yet. I still have a long way to go to reach the limit of what I can bring to the field.
In such a season, when you sign your contract, would you sign immediately?
Yes, immediately (laughs)! But it is better to live without knowing beforehand. There are three important weeks left. I am not satisfied. For a few seasons, without winning anything, without playing in the finals, I’m far behind and I want to take advantage of it 100%. It is difficult to resume in July without experiencing this.
Leinster emerged as the natural favorites in the European final. What do you think?
Looking at the semi-finals, I understand that we made them favorites. But a final, as long as it is not played, is not a winner. For playing two finals, there will always be a favorite, but it is not always the winner! If we had ever been afraid to play in the final against Leinster or Toulouse, we would not have done it all. Now that we’re there, we’re going to play hard. If we are good, we will succeed.
How do you see this Irish province?
To watch them play against the Toulouse, it’s a team that beats you for 40, 50, 60 minutes. At those times they are not going to make any big changes, however, in the last twenty minutes, you have made a lot of impact, frustrating your guards and the boys taking advantage of it. You suffer so much from not being able to keep the hell out of it. That is their game system.
You’re actually expecting a boxing match …
That’s exactly that. This is typical Irish. There aren’t a lot of games after contact, but there’s a lot of kicking and close play. That is their strength. Three-quarters of the Irish team play there, and they play together throughout the year. For them, the European Cup is the Holy Grail. I realized against Toulouse that they never lose their structure and no one is wrong. Is the blackboard. The boys know their role 100%. No French skills, but it works.
“One thing is for sure, if Ihaya West is the opener in the final, I have full confidence in him in the penalty shootout. He’s moving very fast.”
Then how to defeat them?
Against them, the most important thing is the collision areas. The first four times of the game, it was very structured. Beyond that, when you are not successful at the front, no matter what team you are on, it can be more difficult. We need to succeed in including them and with discipline. We are also going to work on pressure foot games. We have the weapons we need against Leinster, even if it’s definitely the team that rolled everyone out during the European campaign. And a quality staff that allows us to prepare well for this competition. The boxing match will start as soon as the whistle blows.
Last year, La Rochelle achieved the greatest feat in its history by ousting Leinster (32-23),
I hear about it again, now, of course. But I have not seen the game yet. At that time, I did not follow the European Cup much, I was worried about Paris, I saw the results. I was surprised. Attempting to line up, Rochellez smashed them exactly at the end of the match. It worked. Will it work this year? I do not know. In any case, you need to find the right strategy.
There, the remaining points on the way facing the poles may be blocked …
This is an important parameter, for sure. Yes, Ihaya (West) has not wasted a few shots on goal against racing in the half (25% success) but over the last few months, he has become more efficient. Decreases in efficiency happen to everyone. One thing is for sure, if he is the opening player in the final, I have full confidence in him on goal shots. Ihaya quickly moves on to another.
You, Atonio and Aldrit – Are you measuring the impact of the return of the rest of the Slams in La Rochelle Group, and still looking for a first major title?
It is true that no one has won anything other than international competitions at Stade Rochellees and a culture of winning has emerged after the return of the 6 nations. Workers know we have a way to succeed in both. There is collective awareness. And personal. For me, I tell myself that although I have not achieved anything in a few years, I can still succeed.
You’re one step closer to getting a double tap …
I do not want to be satisfied with what I have, I want to see more. I came here to win. For the time being, I have won a Grand Slam with the French team, but the Holy Grail is still the World Cup. At the club, right now, we are in the Champions Cup final, but the most important thing is to win it. In the first 14, we are in a position to qualify. But as such, we must go to the end. So there is still work to be done. What has been done will last, but I think there is still great to be written.
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