LEINSTER COACH MATT O’CONNOR is happy for supporters to dream of a semi final with Munster but acknowledges that eliminating Heineken Cup champions Toulon will be a huge ask.
Reacting to the draw for the cup quarter finals, and semi finals, O’Connor paid credit to his players for topping Pool 1 with five wins from six. Leinster’s only defeat, at home to Northampton, cost them a home quarter final and they now must travel to France to face Toulon.
He commented, “I’ve said it many times before, there are no easy games in the Heineken Cup and a trip to Toulon is further proof of that. They have a fantastic squad of players and their form in the Heineken has been excellent with only one loss in a group containing Cardiff, Exeter and Glasgow, meaning they have earned their home quarter final.
I know from the mentality of my players that they want to be tested against the best and ultimately if we are to progress in this competition then we have to play and beat the best and I am confident that we have the capabilities to do that.”
A Leinster win and Munster victory over Toulouse at Thomond Park would set up a third Heineken Cup semi final showdown between the great rivals. O’Connor commented:
Look of course the draw will get fans and media talking but we can’t control that. All that we can control is our own performance away to Toulon. If we get over that considerable hurdle we will have plenty of time to talk about a potential Semi-Final then and I am sure Rob (Penney) will say the same.”
Ulster coach Mark Anscombe was already aware, last night, that his side would be facing Saracens, the team that knocked them out at the quarter final stage last year. “Let’s enjoy our success,” he said. “It’s the first time I think Ulster’s done six out of six. You’ve got to enjoy that, so the boys should have a few beers tonight and then they’ll reflect on what they’ve done.”
He added, “It’s two months away. There was only one team in the quarter final last year and it certainly wasn’t us. But this time we’ve got them at home.”
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