Tuesday 17 October 2017

Jennings still driven by pain of defeat

Shane Jennings
Shane Jennings
David Kelly

David Kelly

Leinster back-row Shane Jennings has said that the painful memory of a Heineken Cup final loss six years ago still drives him on – even though he has since picked up three winners' medals.

As Jennings prepares to renew battle on Saturday with Northampton Saints, against whom he collected his second winners' medal in 2011, the St Mary's College man revealed that being trumped by current team-mate Eoin Reddan in the 2007 final still hurts.

"It's simple," he says. "Once you've got one Heineken Cup medal you want more. I've been to four finals and won three, but the pain of the defeat with Leicester Tigers against Wasps in 2007 is still there."

Jennings' introduction at half-time in the 2011 final helped to turn the tide against the Saints as Leinster embarked upon the greatest comeback in the competition's history.

"When we met them in the final at the Millennium two years ago, we found ourselves trailing by 16 points at half-time," he recalls. "We knew it was going to be hard for them to maintain the way they were playing for the full 80 minutes.

"We had a lot of confidence and belief in our ranks having won the title in 2009 and that came through in the second half as we went on to score 27 points."

Leinster picked up a third title a year later and, despite being eliminated from the pool stages last term, Jennings still collected a European medal via the Amlin. Now he wants the real deal.

"These back-to-back fixtures will tell us a lot about our strength-in-depth and will, once again, define our season. There is definitely another Heineken Cup final in this Leinster side.

"Qualifying from our pool is the first stage of the process and we are all aware of just how tough the two games with Northampton are going to be. But if you can reach the quarter-finals, then you are just two wins away from the final – anything can happen.

"We know we face a massive task this month. We aren't the best team in the tournament, but we are there or thereabouts. We are going to learn a lot about ourselves over the next few weeks. If we lose to Northampton then we know we are likely to be out of the Heineken Cup".

Tickets for Leinster's game against Northampton Saints at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, December 14 are on sale at ticketmaster.ie

Irish Independent

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