Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip says that there is ‘a bit of bite’ in training this week as the squad prepare to face Toulon in a mouth-watering European Champions Cup semi-final on Sunday.
Jamie Heaslip was speaking at a media event in Leinster HQ alongside head coach Matt O’Connor, with the Naas man highlighting the good work in training and the positive mood in camp ahead of the trip to Marseille.
“When it comes to European games there’s always a different feel for (training). Lads are very much on edge this week – there’s a bit of bite this week in training which we like, and I definitely like,” he explained.
“It lets lads know that they’re thinking of it, thinking about the game, trying to get the best out of each other and the best out of training.
“There’s a good feeling. There’s an excited feeling about it, going over there against a team that is made up of superstars – it’s like the Real Madrid of rugby.
“The challenge that poses for us is massive and we relish it, and know the work that has to go in in order for us to be in with a chance against these guys.”
Meanwhile, former Leinster skipper and current forwards coach Leo Cullen reckons that Toulon’s impressive European record in the past two seasons makes this the province’s toughest challenge of the campaign.
“It’s the biggest test (the squad) are going to face this season, I think. What Toulon have done over the last couple of years has been incredibly impressive, backing it up with two trophies and in a semi-final again,” admitted Cullen.
“Everyone understands the challenge. From our end we haven’t performed to the levels expected and that’s hugely disappointing. But this is knockout rugby. One game. We just need to make sure that we prepare as best we can.
“We got well beaten in that quarter-final (against Toulon in last season’s Heineken Cup), even though it was quite close at half-time – we’d weathered the storm – but we didn’t control the game particularly well at the start of the second half.
“Toulon have got massive talent across the board. The depth of the squad that they have, the budget that they’re able to operate. They rested guys last weekend (in the Top 14) and still had over 650 international caps on the pitch.
“They’re operating from a different place, but we understand that challenge now and I think the lads have a pretty good understanding of what’s expected of them. We will go there with a plan, we’ll give it our all and that’s all we can expect of the lads.”