TOULOUSE CAPTAIN AND former New Zealand back-rower Jerome Kaino said his side was prepared to “throw the kitchen sink” at defending champions Leinster after they beat Racing 92 on Sunday to clinch a last four spot in the European Cup.
The Top 14 leaders overcame fellow French giants 22-21 in an open affair but Kaino, a two-time World Cup winner with the All Blacks, admitted facing the Irish province will be a bigger challenge than last year’s runners up.
“We are going to have to throw the kitchen sink when we get to Dublin because it’s not going to be easy,” the 81-capped All Black said.
“Leinster are going to be another step up. They got put under a lot of heat from Ulster (in their quarter-final) and showed how top notch their players are. They’re pretty much an international side,” he added.
With only one defeat since September in either Europe or the league Kaino refused to be drawn about a potential title double for the second time in the club’s history.
“We’re not going to get too ahead of ourselves, we have a lot of rugby to be played before we even think about championships. First step was to get into the semi-finals and we’ve done that,” he added.
The record 19-time French champions can secure a home Top 14 last four spot with three wins from their six remaining league games and travel to out-of-form Toulon next Saturday before hosting second-placed Clermont.
League focus before Europe
Head coach Ugo Mola echoed his skipper’s thoughts before travelling to the Irish capital on April 21.
“I’m going to concentrate on Toulon next week and then playing Clermont at home to maintain our top spot and we will see,” he said.
Mola praised the 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2018 European champions Leinster after they won their quarter-final against Ulster without the injured influential outside half Johnny Sexton as well as Ireland internationals Rob Kearney and Jack McGrath.
“They were incredible. They were even without some of their major players. For me they’re the team who control their gameplan the best in Europe despite a very good Ulster,” the Frenchman said.
“I hope the red shirt, which Ulster wore and we will wear will have the upper hand next time at the Aviva Stadium,” he added.
Kaino, a world champion in 2011 and 2015, said the fixture over Racing was the best club rugby result of his 15-year senior career.
“It’s up there, not just the result but the atmosphere and the crowd. I’ve played a lot of rugby in New Zealand but there’s nothing outside of international rugby that can match that,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to what Dublin has to offer which is going to be amazing,” he added.
© AFP 2019