Carl Hayman: Toulon can claim third European Rugby Champions Cup
Toulon captain Carl Hayman is confident that his side can win third European Rugby Champions Cup
Toulon captain Carl Hayman insists the reigning Top 14 and European champions can claim a historic third successive European title this season.
The Heineken Cup may have been discarded in favour of a new format rebranded as the European Rugby Champions Cup, but the passion and history of the sport’s greatest club cup competition lives on and returns in earnest on Friday.
We are still motivated and keen to do well
“Three in a row is definitely possible,” Hayman said at the French launch for the Champions Cup in Paris. “There is a long way to go before we start talking about that, but it is definitely an aim.
“It’s why we are here and what we get paid for. We will prepare well and not take anything for granted.
“We are still motivated and keen to do well. After a year like the double we are keen to win some more silverware and do the double-double if possible.”
Toulon retained their European title in Jonny Wilkinson’s last match before retirement in May, but the big spenders have struggled at times on their way to three defeats in their first nine matches.
However, the former All Blacks prop believes it is tougher for a French team to win a double than it is for one of the Celtic teams from the Guinness PRO12, where the union-run clubs can manage their players’ schedules.
“It doesn’t happen that often for a reason,” he added. “It’s a long old slog in the Top 14 and it’s very hard to aim to win both competitions.
“We don’t have the luxury of resting players as some teams have been able to do in the past in the PRO12.”
Drawn in a pool with former winners Ulster and Leicester, as well as the Scarlets, Hayman expects it to be a big ask to qualify for the quarter-finals.
“The pools are going to be very tightly contested this season and so it is important to get as many points as possible at home,” he said.
“We start against the Scarlets and we know from their win at Harlequins last season that they can be very dangerous.”