Belfast Telegraph

Leinster out to shatter Toulon's title treble bid

By Robert Jones

Three-time European champions Leinster face the formidable task of trying to stop Toulon's bid for an unprecedented title hat-trick in its tracks tomorrow afternoon in France (3.15pm).

Marseille's Stade Velodrome plays host to a repeat of last season's quarter-final tie, which Toulon won 29-14, and Leinster forwards coach Leo Cullen said: "It's the biggest test the (Leinster) squad are going to face this season, I think.

"They (Toulon) have got massive talent across the board. They rested guys last weekend and still had over 650 international caps on the pitch.

"They are operating from a different place, but we understand that challenge now and I think the lads have a pretty good understanding of what is expected of them."

Leinster are unchanged from the side that knocked out Bath in the last eight, while Toulon's former England flanker Steffon Armitage is on the bench, providing cover for a back-row of Juan Smith, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and Chris Masoe.

And underfire Leinster boss Matt O'Connor has found an ally in the form of former Ireland star Geordan Murphy, who can't believe the flak the Blues' coach has been subjected to.

"When it comes to a European Cup quarter-final, it's not about entertainment, it's about winning," said Murphy about his former Leicester Tigers coach.

From the five seasons Murphy spent working with him, he believes he won't let the criticism get to him.

"He's a very strong character and he has to keep going with his beliefs. The important thing is new ideas, not money. You always want to be the team that can beat the one with more money."

O'Connor will get his chance to do that and improve his own standing tomorrow.

Belfast Telegraph


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