Wallabies star earning rave reviews in Ireland
IT'S certainly been a debut season to remember at Leinster for Wallabies forward Scott Fardy.
Shortlisted for the European player of the year award earlier this month, the 33-year-old will face Paris-based Racing 92 in the European Rugby Champions Cup Final in Bilbao, Spain, on Sunday morning (AEST).
The Irish heavyweights are looking to win the competition for a record-equalling fourth time - just nine years after their first success under now Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.
Fardy, who was part of the Wallabies side that reached the 2015 World Cup final, left the Brumbies at the end of last year's Super Rugby season and has been outstanding since his arrival in Dublin.
His strong displays have made a big impression at a team where previous overseas signings such as ex-Wallabies skipper Rocky Elsom and Brad Thorn have excelled.
Irish superstar five-eighth Johnny Sexton, who'll face the Wallabies in Australia next month in a three-match Test series, has been hugely impressed by what Fardy has brought to the team.
"He's been immense on and off the pitch for us, and especially throughout the Six Nations and the November internationals," Sexton said.
"This is why it's so important the club sign these quality foreigners and professionals.
"He doesn't train as hard in the gym as Brad Thorn did, I don't think he goes to the gym, actually.
"Different guys come in over the years and these guys that come in are quality players and individuals. He (Fardy) has been outstanding for us."
Fardy is joined by Sexton and prop Tadhg Furlong as the Leinster representatives for the player-of-the year award with Racing 92 halfback Maxime Machenaud and second-rower Leone Nakarawa also nominated.
Leinster boast several of the Irish side who won this year's European grand slam and are favourites to win against a team who are chasing their first success.
Despite being one the highest-paid players in the world, All Blacks great Dan Carter, who is in the final year of a $2.2million a-season contract with Racing 92, has not been at his sparkling best and looks set to start the match on the bench.
Former Springbok Pat Lambie has been keeping the All Black great out of the side and reports in France suggest he'll retain his place.