'If we don't win in Europe it's not been a great season' - Johnny Sexton
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, the former British & Irish Lions no.10 and Leinster club captain said that a fifth success in Europe’s most prestigious competition is now the benchmark by which a club which last lifted the trophy in 2018 will measure themselves.
“We have put ourselves in a position that if we don’t win in Europe it’s not been a great season,” he said.
“Sometimes you can win the league and it’s a good season – obviously, any time you win a trophy it’s a good season – but we want to be a great Leinster team and to do that you have to win the European Cup based on what teams have done before us.
“It took a lot of hard work to get us into a club or a culture, whatever you want to call it, where that is the case and it was a slog for a good few years.”
Leinster last lifted the title in 2018 with a hard-fought final victory over Racing 92 in Bilbao.
The Dublin-based province then lost to Saracens in Newcastle 12 months later and again at the quarter-final stage in 2020 when 19 points from Alex Goode saw Mark McCall’s team to a memorable 25-19 Aviva Stadium success.
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However, he hopes to be fit for the following week’s trip to Montpellier – a tie which could prove pivotal in determining Leinster’s route through the latter stages of a competition which sees 24 clubs reduced to 16 ahead of the knock-out stage.
Head coach Leo Cullen is wary of making every opportunity count in the Heineken Champions Cup’s new format.
“Bath are a team we need to make sure we prepare well for to give ourselves the best chance, because it’s such a tricky format with just four pool games,” he told the 42.
“With all the various challenges with Covid, disruptions etc that are potentially there – it’s important we mind ourselves during the week and that it comes to it we’re battling for every single point available.
“We were poor last week (against Ulster) and a bit better against Connacht. So, for us it’s focusing on getting better, improving our performance.
“We need a bit of cohesion as a group to give ourselves the best chance in Europe in the first two weeks.”
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