Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Cockerill ready for tough test

Richard Cockerill is relishing the challenge of taking on Toulon
Richard Cockerill is relishing the challenge of taking on Toulon

Richard Cockerill readily accepts that Leicester face a huge Heineken Cup task against a "physical and relentless" Toulon team on Sunday - but is undaunted by the challenge that awaits at Stade Felix Mayol.

Despite Toulon's relative inexperience of Heineken Cup rugby - their one previous campaign resulted in a quarter-final loss to Perpignan - they have been widely backed as potential European champions this season.

"Toulon have a great side and a lot of depth with great players," Cockerill said. "But we have very, very good players who are certainly good enough to compete at this level too, and the sum of our parts is very good."

He added: "Toulon are physical and they are relentless - that is the way they play - and clearly we will be underdogs. But we won't go there afraid, we will go with respect and we will have a crack at them."

The fly-half battle between former England and Newcastle colleagues Jonny Wilkinson and Leicester captain Toby Flood could go some way towards deciding the contest.

They have never played against each other before, and Flood said: "It will be enjoyable. I think it will be fun to come up against him.

"These games, at a place like Stade Mayol, playing against guys you know like Delon and Steffon Armitage and Jonny are great.

"Toulon control territory very well and they will aim to build momentum, and Jonny will orchestrate that. He will want to play quick, on top of us. Any time their momentum stalls, he will just take two or three steps back, drop it on to his right or left foot and bang it through the posts.

"He looks just as sharp as he was in the past, and just as hungry. As he has said, it is all about whether he can still give something to the side.

"He's hitting more breakdowns in a game than most 10s do in a week! He's always been like that, thinking about what he can give, not what he can gain. He is definitely giving something to that Toulon side, and that is what matters to him."

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