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'I've not had a bigger test as Blues coach' -- Schmidt

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt ranks Clermont-Auvergne "as tough a task as we have faced" since he arrived in Dublin at the start of last season.

"They are certainly one of the best teams in Europe. They have every right to be where they are. Hopefully, we can compete on their soil and come away with something," he said.

"Last year, we got them in our pool and had to play them twice. We managed to sneak past them and get into the play-offs.

"They have recruited incredibly well this year. They are one of the big-budget French clubs.

"They have developed over the last two years. They are a stronger unit than when I left. Hinesy (Nathan Hines) has gone in there. Sitiveni Sivivatu is a very elusive man.

"Wesley Fofana has emerged and has matured into a really fantastic player. For us to compete with that is going to be very tough on what is reported to be a fairly wet ground, which will slow down our game and, probably, aid the big-hitting men that they bring coming forward.

"Up front, they are very strong and they probably have eight-to-10 kilos per man in the backline on us."

Schmidt expressed a wish to renew old friendships with his coach Vern Cotter and the Clermont-Auvergne players to whom he was close over his three seasons there.

"There is only one good way to catch up with them afterwards. We'll have to see what happens, whether they've got the smile on their faces or I have," he said.


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