Belfast Telegraph

Heineken Cup: Doak admits Ulster are jealous of Leinster’s success

By Niall Crozier

Ulster backs coach Neil Doak saw only the final few minutes of Leinster’s Heineken Cup semi final with Clermont Auvergne; he was working with a P4 mini-rugby group while the intriguing Battle of Bordeaux raged.

“I watched the last five minutes of it when I got home. Leinster’s defence was pretty good, but (Wesley) Fofana’s maybe is not a happy chappy this morning,” Doak said, managing to include two masterpieces of understatement in one sentence.

“Clermont were a little bit unlucky not to win. From our point of view we were quite happy to sit back and watch to see who we were going to meet in the final.”

Having been on the receiving end of so many defeats by Leinster, Doak views the May 19 showdown as a golden opportunity for some long overdue pay-back.

“Leinster and Munster have probably been the forerunners with regard to European rugby and Irish rugby. For (want of) a better word, we’re jealous of that,” he conceded.

“We want to be up there, we want to emulate that.

“Obviously they (Leinster) have been in three finals in four years, which is absolutely tremendous from their point of view. It’s a credit to their management and the players — they’ve worked hard and got themselves to three finals out of four.

“We want to do that; we want to emulate and better that. We’ve got a chance in the cup final in a few weeks time, though, obviously, Leinster are going for back-to-backs so we’ve just to try and make sure that we do ourselves justice, pitch up, hopefully upset them and get ourselves a second European win.”

Doak doesn’t care that the bookmakers, having ensconced the Heineken Cup holders as odds-on favourites. After all, Ulster were

underdogs in their quarter-final with Munster at Thomond Park.

But with men like Brian O’Driscoll, Rob Kearney, Isa Nacewa et al, he said: “They’ll quite rightly be favourite with the experience, the number of internationals and the quality that they have in their squad across the board.

“But we’ve got ourselves to the final and it’s on the day who can take their chances. Against quality sides you get a couple of chances and if we’re able to take them, get ourselves in front and dig in like we did against Munster, you never know.

“The underdogs have come up trumps a few times in a lot of competitions in a lot of sports, so we’re quite happy to be there and give it a rattle.”

But Doak acknowledged that Ulster have to earn the respect in which Leinster and Munster are held.

“We haven’t done it yet, so we’re always going to be underdogs until we get over that hurdle and beat them on a bit more regular basis and not just one-offs,” he said candidly. “Mind, in three weeks I’d take a one-off!” he joked.

“No, we want to try and get some sustained success with the team and hopefully the knock-on effect is that provincial rugby and everything around flourishes.”

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