Donal Lenihan believes that Leinster will be "too strong, too smart and too experienced" for Toulouse when the two sides meet at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

A place in this season's Champions Cup final awaits the winner of this mouth-watering encounter at the Lansdowne Road arena with the French side looking to complete a remarkably triple crown, of sorts, against Leo Cullen’s side.

The five-time champions knocked Ulster out of the tournament in the round of 16 before finally edging past Munster last weekend in the quarter-finals following a place-kicking competition.

And this week, they return to Dublin looking for the third Irish scalp in a row as they face Leinster, with either Racing 92 or La Rochelle waiting in the final, which is set to take place at the Stade Orange Velodrome in Marseille on 28 May.

But it has been far from easy for the reigning champions, who defeated La Rochelle in last season’s decider, as they had to come from behind to beat Ulster over two legs, while they could not be separated with Munster over 100 minutes.

"Toulouse are struggling by their standards, however, they are still finding a way to win," said former Ireland captain Lenihan, speaking on Morning Ireland.

"They lost in Toulouse in the first game of the round of 16 and had a player sent off inside the first ten minutes, but they managed to fight back and narrow the gap to six points for the return game in Ulster, and won that game.

"Last weekend was incredible with 40,000 Munster supporters (at the Aviva), but Toulouse were incredible again, despite being short of their best, they just found a way to prevail at the end and that’s what they do, and it is something that Leinster will be conscious of."

Josh van der Flier has been instrumental for Leinster

Lenihan feels that the breakdown will be key to deciding Saturday’s outcome, and while Leinster are likely to be tested from a physical standpoint, lessons are there to be learned from Munster’s performance in this key area.

Munster’s ability to disrupt the Toulouse attack, which led to an incredible amount of turnover ball is somewhere that Leinster must target, according to Lenihan, who feels that Cullen’s team will reap huge benefits if they can come close to replicating the numbers.

"I think it’s going to be incredibly physical," said Lenihan. "Leinster will be tested up front, and that is where they were beaten last year in the semi-final against La Rochelle and in their defeats in '19 and ‘20 against Saracens, and Toulouse will look to take them on there.

"The breakdown will be the key. Leinster’s breakdown work in attack, the quality and the ball presentation, and the manner with which they recycled the ball so quickly.

"It puts the ball on a plate for Gibson Park, who is playing out of his skin at the moment, and Johnny Sexton. That Leinster back row of [Josh] van der Flier, Caelan Doris and Jack Conan have been outstanding.

"I think they will look at what Munster did on the defensive breakdown against Toulouse at the Aviva. Munster managed to secure 19 turnovers during the game.

"If that Leinster back line can get anywhere near that, then I think they can do severe damage."

Predicting who is likely to move forward into the final, Lenihan feels that the current holders will fall at the final hurdle, as he believes that they are missing something special from their attack.

"It’s not going to be easy, but I think Toulouse don’t have Cheslin Kolbe anymore, the brilliant Springbok winger, and he won games on his own for them last year. And I think that Toulouse are missing that x-factor at the moment.

"But overall I just think Leinster; too strong, too smart too experienced.

"They’ve been gearing for Europe, it is where they want to win, they haven’t won since 2018, so I’m going with Leinster."

Listen to Leinster v Toulouse in the Champions Cup semi-final live on RTÉ Radio 1 on Saturday from 3pm with live blog on RTÉ.ie/Sport and the RTÉ News app