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'We will give Leinster a real lash'

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin says that Ulster face a really difficult task if they are to defeat Leinster and win the Heineken Cup at Twickenham on May 19.

McLaughlin was very impressed with Leinster's 19-15 victory over Clermont Auvergne yesterday that showed just what a good team they are. "I thought Leinster were superb," said a happy Ulster coach, whose side eked out a 22-19 semi-final win over Edinburgh.

"They proved they are a quality side in the way they handled Clermont at the end. It was a tremendous defensive performance after they fought back to take the lead.

"But we know what to expect from Leinster. We played them a few weeks back and they were a good quality side. But hey, it's a final and anything can happen.

"Obviously, we will be going in as underdogs, but that will not bother us. There is one thing for sure and that is we will give it a real lash. It will not be for the want of trying."

McLaughlin also said that flanker Chris Henry is still a major doubt for the game.

"We will know a lot more tomorrow," he said. "The ligaments in the ankle are damaged and it will still be touch and go.

"As for next week's game against Munster in Limerick, we will be sitting down to work out what we will do regarding resting and giving players game-time.

"It could be difficult for some not having played for three weeks when we head to London. There are a few things we might do but as yet we are just enjoying the fact that we have made the final."

In other squad news, it is believed that third-choice hooker Andy Kyriacou is to leave Ulster at the end of the season and sign for the Cardiff Blues.

Meanwhile, Connacht captain Gavin Duffy said that it was a huge boost for rugby in the west to know that they will be in the Heineken Cup again next year -- with an Irish side guaranteed to win the competition, the westerners have secured their berth.

"It is fantastic to know that we will be there again, and fair play to Ulster and Leinster for reaching the final," said the Mayo man.

"It was completely out of our hands but they produced the goods when it mattered and it should not be a superb final.

"This is another huge boost for Connacht. We spent years trying to get into the competition and it drove the game forward enormously this season after Leinster won the title last year and brought us into it.

"We have now got a taste of it and will look forward to it even more next year now that everyone knows what's involved. We can't wait for the draw now."

Irish Independent