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Schmidt anxious ahead of European semi-final

Guinness PRO12 Editor

24 Apr 2012

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt insists he will is counting on utilising his full squad in the Heineken Cup semi-final against Clermont Auvergne on Sunday when he will come up against his former boss Vern Cotter.


The Irish province, who secured top spot in the RaboDirect PRO12 with their 16-8 win at Ulster on Friday, will be looking to retain their European title but Schmidt knows more than most it won’t be an easy proposition.

Clermont are currently level on points with Toulouse at the summit of the Top 14 table and after helping the French side to their first domestic title in 2010 as assistant under Cotter, Schmidt doesn’t want to see the Michelin men’s trophy cabinet swell too much this term.

With either Ulster or Edinburgh lying in wait in the final, Schmidt admits the tension is starting to show on both sides of the channel.

"I think [Vern Cotter] is as nervous as I am about it,” he said. “I don't think either of us believes 15 players on either side will win it. It is certainly about the 23 players that are selected.

“I think we can go there and play pretty well and still not get the result, and I think he feels the same way.

"That is the way it should be with a European semi-final. I think it is going to very, very tough and so does he.

"They have avoided the barrage. They are clearly going to play direct into the semi-finals in France, so they are already in a comfortable spot, a little like we are.

"I think, with the depth of their side, Vern is pretty comfortable with the options that he has at his disposal. It will be really interesting when the team comes out.”