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Nightmare revisited

REDEMPTION may be just around the corner.

It could just be that the man whose psychological meltdown was given as the sole reason Leinster beat Clermont-Auvergne in the 2010 Heineken Cup quarter-final will come back to haunt the Irish province.

Brock James was laughingly labelled 'Brock the Crock' when he was off target from five kicks and three drop goals as Clermont caved in 29-28 on an April night at the RDS.

It was one of those heartbreaking hours you wouldn't wish on your second worst enemy. James disintegrated in front of a packed-out crowd in what was a one-man horror show.

"Obviously, that wasn't a great day for me. It was difficult to lose, miss a few drop goals and the penalties along the way. It was difficult," admitted James.

"It isn't about revenge over Leinster. They did well the two seasons we played them, reaching the semi-finals in 2010 and then winning the tournament last season after we had met in the Pool stages."

The scent of revenge must be in the air as Clermont contemplate the visit of Leinster to Bordeaux in their first semi-final appearance on Sunday, April 29.

"We had those two games against them last year (in the Pool) to try to get our revenge, and we beat them at home, but plenty of water has gone under the bridge since then," said James. "We have put together a good group of players and we are looking to be more efficient."

Silence

Australian James appeared off the bench to silence the Saracens 'Fez Heads' 22-3 with a metronomic display of tactical and goal kicking in the last quarter-final at Vicarage Road on Sunday.

France international David Skrela was hobbled by a leg injury just three minutes into the action.

This was the signal for James' howitzer right boot to take over the game.

He struck 14 points to land Clermont-Auvergne the opportunity to become only the third French club to win the European Cup after four-time winners Toulouse (1996, 2003, 2005, 2010) and Brive (1997).

The personal rehabilitation has been complete for some time.

He doesn't have anything to prove to his coach, Vern Cotter, in the French Top-14. Europe is another matter entirely, however.

"We have talked about the Heineken Cup a little bit more than we do normally. We have decided as a group it is something we would like to achieve this season," added James.

"We have taken the next step to the semi-final and we have a difficult match to come against Leinster, but we will prepare as well as we can for that.

Different

"We have more depth in the squad this season and adding players like Lee Byrne, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Nathan Hines has brought in different ideas.

"We have developed new determination through the season, which you saw in the end at Saracens when we held them out (for victory)."


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