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'Munster was huge but this week is bigger': Leinster determined to right the European wrongs

Devin Toner says confidence is high around the squad but they are all aware of the task that lies ahead.

Toner speaking at Leinster HQ yesterday.
Toner speaking at Leinster HQ yesterday.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

AFTER DEFEAT TO Wasps in their European opener set the tone for a miserable campaign last year, Leinster are acutely aware of the significance of this weekend’s clash with Castres.

Leo Cullen’s side welcome the Top 14 outfit to Dublin on Saturday and while the squad is in good spirits after victory over Munster, the failings of last season are still in the back of everyone’s mind.

“It was a really good result at the weekend,” Devin Toner says. “It’s a huge week now and I suppose last week was a huge game but it’s bigger this week.

“It brings a bit of a lighter mood around the place and everyone’s really looking forward to this weekend and trying to get in the team. There’s a lot of competition for spaces.

“There is pressure there. The way we performed last year in Europe will drive us on more to try and do better. There is a buzz around the place but it is at the back of your head that it is an important weekend and Europe is a huge place to show what you can do.

“There is pressure to perform but that will only do well for the younger players and there is a lot of experienced players in the squad who can handle themselves so the pressure can help in some ways. There’s always pressure.”

The eastern province finished bottom of Pool 5 last season, winning just one of their six outings as their campaign failed to ever get going.

A heavy defeat to Wasps at the RDS was a warning of things to come but Toner insists the players have learned from the mistakes.

Leinster’s Devin Toner is tackled by Munster’s Billy Holland and CJ Stander Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“There’s no easy groups now at all,” he says, looking ahead to fixtures against Castres, Montpellier and Northampton in Pool 4.

“We have two French teams coming up that have been doing well but we’ve just one loss this year to Glasgow, so we’re very positive and everyone’s really looking forward to it.

“There’s a lot of confidence in the squad, there are a lot of young players playing really well and we’re gelling more as a team.”

The performance against Leinster was certainly another step in the right direction with plenty of positives to be taken from the showings in both attack and defence at the Aviva Stadium.

Toner admits the pack still have work to do, particularly with a powerful Castres side carrying such a threat from the set-piece.

“As a pack we always look at what we can improve on and I don’t think we did ourselves any justice against Munster,” the Ireland international added.

“They scored a maul try against us and we have to look at that and there’s always things to improve on. I’m not going to say we didn’t feel troubled but we were confident in our d and we can take a lot of confidence from it.

“This week is all about Castres and all the players will sit down tomorrow and get our head around what they’ll bring. Castres as a team rely heavily on the set-piece to provide a platform for the backs and we have to do everything we can to negate that. They rely heavily on.

“We know where the threat is going to come from and if we can disrupt them there then we’ll go along way in terms of winning.”

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