Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Rugby

Abendanon focused on Euro glory

Published 01/05/2015

Former Bath full-back Nick Abendanon, pictured, believes the Champions Cup final is no Rugby World Cup audition
Former Bath full-back Nick Abendanon, pictured, believes the Champions Cup final is no Rugby World Cup audition

Nick Abendanon believes his battle to come in from the Rugby World Cup wilderness has nothing to do with the Champions Cup final.

The former Bath full-back insists reaching the European showpiece in his first season at Clermont vindicates his decision to leave the Recreation Ground last summer.

The 28-year-old will be in the same boat as Toulon rival Steffon Armitage in Saturday's Twickenham clash, with both men still fighting to catch England boss Stuart Lancaster's eye.

Clermont are bidding for their first ever European title, in a repeat of the 2013 Heineken Cup final, and Abendanon insists club glory is all that matters this weekend.

"To be honest with you I know there's been a lot of talk about the World Cup, but at the end of the day it's got nothing to do with how well me and Stef are going to play tomorrow," said Abendanon.

"We've both done our part for our teams to get ourselves into this position in the first place and Stuart's going to be the only one who can make that decision.

"I'm sure we'll just go out and do exactly as we have done throughout the tournament and it's out of our hands so there's nothing we can really change."

Abendanon won just two Test caps in his 10-year stint at Bath, that lack of international opportunity doubtless factoring in his decision to chase a new challenge across the Channel last summer.

England look ready to stick to their policy of refusing to select foreign-based stars at the World Cup and prepared also to ignore the "exceptional circumstances" clause that allows for special cases.

The clamour for Toulon star Armitage's World Cup inclusion has run all season, ever since the former London Irish loose-forward almost joined Bath in October in a bid to reintegrate into the England set-up.

Abendanon has emerged as a World Cup contender across the course of Clermont's tilt for European glory and the South Africa-born star believes he has benefited from his switch.

"I think I've definitely improved as a player," said Abendanon.

"Coming into a new environment, I was very comfortable at Bath having been there 10 years.

"Being coached by new coaches and playing with some of the best players I've had the privilege of playing with, you learn new things.

"You pick up little slight intricacies that will obviously help out your game.

"That's something that's really helped my game and it's a great thing that I feel that I've done.

"The reason I left Bath in the first place was to come to a team like Clermont that would compete for titles and in the Champions Cup.

"To have reached a final in my first year at the club is a dream come true.

"For everyone who has worked so hard this year in the whole of the club it's a tough task to keep performing every week in this competition.

"But there's one more job to get done tomorrow."

British and Irish Lions full-back Leigh Halfpenny will this weekend provide Toulon with the kind of goal-kicking accuracy the Cote d'Azur club lost when Jonny Wilkinson retired last summer.

Abendanon admits Clermont must toe the disciplinary line on Saturday to ensure his counterpart is not gifted the opportunity to take the tie out of reach.

"Leigh's a great player, he's obviously shown over the last three years his class and running lines," said Abendanon.

"He's a player with a lot of experience and he's one of the integral players in their team when it comes to keeping their scoreboard ticking over.

"He's a fantastic kicker of the ball and for us to counteract that our discipline needs to be 100 per cent accurate to take that away from them."

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph