Hayman tips another title defence
Carl Hayman has tipped Toulon to continue dominating the Champions Cup after helping the French giants to an unprecedented third-straight European title.
The former All Blacks prop will retire this summer, along with World Cup-winners Ali Williams and Bakkies Botha - but backed Toulon to ride out a number of squad changes.
Drew Mitchell's stunning score helped Toulon edge past Clermont 24-18 at Twickenham to claim the inaugural Champions Cup crown and their third consecutive European title.
Hayman admitted he can retire happy this summer after making European history, then insisted Toulon will not rest on their laurels.
"I think they can do it again next year: we're seeing the club's recruited very well for next season," said Hayman.
"There are three or four older fellas moving on, but they are being replaced well.
"It will be up to the guys who are staying to move things forward and continue on what the guys have started here over the last four or five years.
"I think being the third victory, it's an even greater feeling.
"It's such a difficult competition, especially now with the pools being reduced, it's a lot harder.
"So it's a third time, and that will be extremely rare.
"Teams now have bigger budgets; teams are getting more competitive and more balanced throughout the competition.
"So it's going to continue to get harder and harder as the years go on.
"But I know Toulon can keep doing it.
"To win a third title like that, it was a hell of a tough game.
"But it's credit to our group of guys that we stuck at it.
"We're just really wrapped.
"I think it shows the quality of our group, we've got some pretty old heads in there but we've got some other guys who've contributed as well.
"It was vital we'd been in finals and positions like that in the last three or four years; the guys knew what to do."
Former Bath full-back Nick Abendanon claimed a scintillating chip-and-chase try as Clermont battled for an unlikely second-half comeback - but it was his error just before half-time that cost his side victory.
The South Africa-born star admitted he should have booted the ball dead to signal half-time rather than try an improbable counter attack.
His misjudged chip handed Toulon a try through Mathieu Bastareaud, and Clermont never recovered.
"We are pretty devastated, I should have kicked that ball out at the end of the first half which cost us," said Abendanon.
"We gave away some silly penalties and when you do that Leigh Halfpenny is going to take his opportunities.
"We felt like we were in the game until the final whistle went.
"We went through a lot of phases towards the end and put them under a lot of pressure.
"I felt we were going to break their wall and get in somewhere for a try but unfortunately that wasn't the case.
"We lost so my try doesn't really mean anything to me.
"It was turnover ball which is always the best ball to attack from and I saw Leigh Halfpenny was in the front line and there was obviously nobody covering behind so I decided to chance my luck and it paid off."
Clermont lost to Toulon for the second time in three years, their 13th defeat in a major final in the club's history.
Abendanon said no one at the club will allow that record to weigh heavily.
"We will just go on playing in this tournament until we win it," he said.
"We know we have got the team to do it.
"It just a few silly errors that cost us, you can't afford those errors when you are in the final against a team like Toulon."