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Hayman targets big improvements

Carl Hayman has admitted Toulon "have a lot of work to do" to secure an unprecedented third consecutive European title, despite reaching the Champions Cup semi-finals.

Toulon captain Hayman admitted Bernard Laporte's men were distinctly underwhelmed by their performance levels in Sunday's 32-18 quarter-final victory over Wasps.

The Cote d'Azur outfit had Frederic Michalak's unerring boot and Ali Williams' late try to thank for a victory littered with error and inaccuracy.

Toulon will host Leinster at Marseille's Stade Velodrome on Sunday, April 19 in the last four, with Hayman conceding vast improvements are required to lift the inaugural Champions Cup.

"If we want to be in London for the final we've got a lot of work to do," Hayman told Press Association Sport.

"If we're honest with ourselves that was nowhere near what we expect against Wasps, and we're going to have to make big improvements quickly.

"It's great to get through of course, and winning is what counts ultimately, but there were far too many mistakes."

Toulon won back-to-back European crowns to signal the end of the Heineken Cup era, and president Mourad Boudjellal's expensively-assembled cast of stars are out to make continental history this term.

No side has ever won three European titles on the trot, though Leicester and Munster have also previously registered back-to-back triumphs.

In Sunday's unstructured and sloppy attempts at swashbuckling, Toulon clearly craved the hard-nosed and direct influence of a certain Jonny Wilkinson.

England's World Cup-winner's summer retirement leaves a clear void at Stade Mayol, especially when Matt Giteau is missing through injury.

The former Australia pivot returned via the bench at the weekend, leaving Michalak to lead an at times befuddled line.

New Zealand tighthead Hayman believes Giteau's return to fitness will offer a timely extra level of focus to Toulon's approach.

Hayman is set to retire at the end of the season, with the 35-year-old currently completing coaching courses in France with a view to launching an off-field career in Europe.

The 45-cap All Black admitted: "I won't burn my boots" at the end of the season however - keeping himself available in the autumn just in case New Zealand suffer a front-row injury crisis at the World Cup in England.

"We always try to look for width on the ball and balance that with our power game, so we'll look to continue that, but we've got to make better decisions on the field," said Hayman.

"Little mistakes, penalties at the scrum, they cost us, and that hurt us.

"Take those out of the game and we're in a far better position at half-time.

"It's great to have Matt Giteau coming back: having guys of that experience to come back into the 10-12 area is going to be invaluable.

"Michalak played well but you can't underestimate what a difference it makes to have another guy in there to organise the team and give us another voice on the field.

"Having him back especially is going to make a big difference for us.

"Obviously it would be fantastic to go out on a high, Jonny (Wilkinson) was able to do that last year when we won the double and he fully deserved it.

"But like I said, there's a fair bit of work in front of us before we start thinking too much about any of that."


From Belfast Telegraph