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Schmidt Assesses ‘Tough Group’ For Leinster

Schmidt Assesses ‘Tough Group’ For Leinster

Two of European rugby’s modern day giants, Leinster and Clermont Auvergne, look destined to meet each other year after year following today’s draw for the 2012/13 Heineken Cup pool stages. The pair have been placed together in Pool 5 alongside the Scarlets and Exeter Chiefs.

The way the draw panned out means that Leinster and Clermont Auvergne will play each other for the fourth season in-a-row.

The sides clashed in the 2010 quarter-finals, the pool stages during the 2010/11 campaign and last season’s semi-finals with the French club the last team to beat Leinster 15 Heineken Cup matches ago.

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Joe Schmidt has guided Leinster to back-to-back Heineken Cup crowns since joining the province from Clermont Auvergne two seasons ago.

Asked if he could believe it when he heard that Leinster had drawn Clermont Auvergne, Schmidt told ercrugby.com: “Unfortunately we have to believe it!

“We will also be against the Scarlets and Exeter Chiefs in Pool 5 so it is a tough group. Clermont are an exceptional and extremely well coached side – they have quality across the board.

“They had a couple of injuries ahead of last season’s semi-final in Bordeaux and then lost Lee Byrne and Julien Malzieu during the game, so perhaps we had a bit of good fortune on that occasion.”

The New Zealander added: “The Scarlets have some super players and will also be really challenging opposition, particularly through the likes of George North, Jonathan Davies and Rhys Priestland.

“And (coach) Rob Baxter has done a great job with Exeter Chiefs, first getting them promoted and then taking them storming through the English league and into the Heineken Cup for the first time.”

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