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Ross keen on defending like Tigers

LEINSTER tight-head Mike Ross has likened the Heineken Cup semi-final away date in Bordeaux against Clermont-Auvergne to entering into "a bear pit".

The Heineken Cup quarter-final 31-point record destruction of Cardiff Blues has had pundits at home and abroad reaching for superlatives. "It would be a massive coup to defend the Heineken Cup. Only one team has done that before and we know what a great team Leicester were 2000 to 2002," said Ross (pictured).

"To match the feat of that Tigers team would be a great achievement and we couldn't ask for any extra motivation."

Of course, there are other considerations, as well, given Leinster are battling on two fronts to do what they just couldn't last year when Munster thwarted them in the Magners League Grand final.

"We are also still on course in the league and doing the double is something that hasn't been done before so it's all on the table for us and these are exciting times to be a Leinster player."

The champions will want to keep Ross fit for the fray. Jamie Hagan does not yet have the experience to deal with the Clermont front row power play.

They do, however, have Connacht-bound Nathan White, the former Waikato captain, as a realistic option to cover over any cracks at tight-head should Ross fall foul of injury.

"As a player, you want to play in front of big crowds on big occasions," said White, about his cameo role against Cardiff. "I have never played in front of a crowd like that, coming from New Zealand. It was fantastic to get out there.

"We've got eight weeks left here and we have a job to do. I just want to go out and focus on that really.

"Any French club you play is going to be a tough battle. We had a taste of that earlier in the season in Montpellier.

"They are right into the scrummaging and they use it as a real attacking weapon. You've got to be on your game and pretty mentally focussed."

Ross and White appear to be on the same page.