Edinburgh centre Nick de Luca expects the 2009/10 Magners League season to go right down to the wire.
The introduction of the Play Off system means more teams will have a significant interest in the competition until the closing stages, with de Luca’s Edinburgh determined to be one of the four sides involved in the end-of-season semi-finals.
“The Play Offs are a great introduction to the Magners League,” said de Luca, who is currently with the Scotland national team preparing for the Six Nations opener against France at Murrayfield this Sunday.
“The league’s been guilty of tapering off towards the end in the past. Munster won it quite early last year and the Ospreys have won it early too.
“It’s going to be a tight season this time and it’s going to be last-minute stuff getting into that top four and I think it’s going to really exciting.”
Edinburgh currently sit third in the Magners League standings having won six times so far this season.
It marks a decent return for the first 11 games of the 18-match regular campaign but de Luca is still demanding more.
“We know we need to perform better. We’re sitting pretty high up in the league but we want to progress and get better and we’ve got a lot more to come,” added de Luca.
“There are still some games that we could have won. We lost to Leinster at home by a couple of points and we lost to the Dragons at home by a point so by no means are we happy.
“If we don’t make it into the top four, we’ve only got ourselves to blame.”
Achieving a Play Off spot is de Luca’s primary objective. Winning the league this season guarantees nothing but a top-four finish provides a shot at glory.
But having being bridesmaids to Munster nine months ago, de Luca admits that finishing the season with defeat in either the semi-finals or final simply won’t be good enough.
Being crowned Magners League Champions is the only thing de Luca and co are remotely interested in.
“Ultimately, we want to finish in the top four. If we can get a home semi-final, then even better. But you’ve just got to get into the top four and then it’s just one game and anything can happen. Our away form’s quite good so we’d still back ourselves if we only finish fourth.
“We finished fourth in our first year under Andy (Robinson) and then second last year and it’s great to be up there. But no one remembers second and no one remembers fourth.
“We desperately want to win it and that’s our goal this year.”