Leinster’s Tadhg Furlong ready for ‘pent up’ Exeter to ‘go back and attack’ them in Champions Cup quarter-finals… while Chiefs boss Rob Baxter eager to ‘move on’ from Irish side’s storied European history
- Leinster’s Tadhg Furlong said he expects a ‘pent up’ Exeter side to ‘attack’ them
- Exeter are current European champions and play Leinster in the quarter-finals
- Exeter boss Rob Baxter said the club have to ‘move on’ from Leinster’s history
- The Irish giants have won the European Cup four times between 2009 and 2018
Leinster are star-gazing once more in Europe ahead of the defining match of their season, but know defending champions Exeter will not have their head in the clouds.
The Irish giants and four-time European Cup winners go to Sandy Park in Saturday’s quarter-final against Rob Baxter’s Chiefs full of respect for the English.
Asked if Exeter would be hungry for another big European scalp after winning the Cup last autumn for the first time, Ireland and Lions tight-head prop Tadhg Furlong said: ‘I think so once you have tasted success. Sometimes it goes either way for teams. They lay back on their laurels and expect it to happen and forget all the hurt that they have had over the years.
Leinster’s Tadhg Furlong (left) expects Rob Baxter’s (right) Exeter to fiercely attack his side
Leinster have been European champions four times, and won the Pro14 league last month
‘Or it goes the other way where it gets so pent up and they want it so much and they go back and attack it again. I certainly think Exeter in the latter camp.’
Leinster may have four stars on their chests, after titles in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2018, but Exeter boss Baxter is not worried by history.
‘It’s a very significant challenge, but is it any bigger than last season?’ Baxter said.
‘You’ve got to get perspective and move on from the history of seven, eight, nine or 10 years ago.
‘Leinster were the first team we played in the Heineken Cup in 2012 and there was a fair bit of underestimation from them, they sneaked through 9-6 over in Ireland.
Exeter Chiefs won their first European Cup last October, beating France’s Racing 92 31-27
Baxter said Exeter will meet Leinster on a ‘far more level’ playing field than in previous games
‘Since then we’ve met a few times and they’ve come out on top, but we’ve moved on to a degree.
‘I’m not saying we’re meeting on a level playing field, but it’s far more level than to talk about history too much.
‘If we talked about history then Exeter would never be near the final of the Premiership or a European Cup. We’ve now won both.
‘It’s about the here and now.’
Furlong knows that success on the continent is the be-all-and-end-all for Pro14 champions Leinster, who were knocked out by Saracens last season.
‘It’s such a barometer of where we’re at in our season and there is so much emphasis on it and because of our history it means so much to players and you want to be part of a group that challenges and tries to win more trophies,’ the prop added.
‘The legacy has done it and you want to write it into our future as well. So it’s massive.’
Leinster fly half Jonny Sexton (right) kissing the European Cup, which they last won in 2018