Former Leinster lock Nathan Hines reckons that Clermont's emphatic 39-17 victory over Toulouse is the ideal build-up to Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final against Munster, WRITES JOHN FALLON.
Clermont Auvergne sent their second team and drew with Toulon the weekend before last but turned out a near full-strength side to destroy the reigning domestic champions at home at the weekend.
"We were happy we were playing Toulouse on the weekend because we had to play well at home against them. That's something that we can carry into next week. They don't make too many mistakes. Against them, you have to earn access into the game, you're not given it," said the 36-year-old.
Hines won a Heineken Cup medal with Leinster in 2011 and enjoyed a few jousts with Munster in his time in Ireland; he also came up against Paul O'Connell during his international career with Scotland where the Aussie-born player won 77 caps.
"He's always been a great performer and a good leader for Munster. It's good to see him back from injury and playing so well," he said of O'Connell.
"I don't know whether he thinks he was fortunate," said Hines in relation to the incident with Dave Kearney. "It's got nothing to do with me or him – it's a citing commissioner issue.
"When you think of Munster, you think of Paul O'Connell. We can't control whether he's in the team or not. We just play the cards we're dealt with," added Hines, who recently signed a new one-year deal with Clermont.
He reckons his former Leinster colleague Jonathan Sexton will do very well in the Top 14 next season.
"It's not like he's going to lack quality players around him. Obviously there's a period where you need to bed in and get used to your surroundings, but Jonny will adapt, he will do well," said Hines.