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Horgan: Leinster have to starve Toulon of possession

Former Ireland winger says Leo Cullen’s side must make the most of any opportunities that come their way on Sunday to have any hope of getting a result.

Johnny Sexton is not afraid of taking risks.
Johnny Sexton is not afraid of taking risks.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

SHANE HORGAN ADMITS that Leinster’s outlook is grim on Sunday if Toulon play as well as they can.

However, the former Ireland winger has highlighted a couple key areas for Leo Cullen’s side to target to give themselves a chance if the reigning champions are off-colour.

“If Toulon play as well as they can I think they have more talent than the Leinster team at the moment,” Horgan said.

“You have to starve them of possession. Toulon are used to being dominant in the French league and in Europe.

“They (Leinster) don’t necessarily need to be dominant in possession but need to be almost breaking 50-50.

“I think we have seen indications that Leinster are looking to move the ball outside of the 10 with regards to forward carriers and I think that’s probably a smart move against Toulon.”

Last year’s drawn semi-final, which Toulon won 25-20 after extra-time, gives Leinster reasons for optimism, Horgan believes.

“Toulon don’t always hit their straps. Last year in the semi they didn’t perform that well at all and they gave opportunities to Leinster.”

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And with Johnny Sexton back at fly-half this year, Horgan explains Leinster have someone who can make the most out of a small defensive lapse.

“Johnny will certainly be alert to any opportunity. He is a risk-taker and if something is on he always prepared to make the right decision. And that doesn’t matter if he’s on his 22.”

Horgan also argued that the importance of Leinster’s transition play – the speed with which they can turn defence into attack – could be vital to catching Toulon off guard.

“Toulon don’t give you a huge amount of opportunities but if you do turn the ball over, they can be disorganised because they are such an attack-minded team. And you have to be prepared to capitalise on that.”

Sky Sports has exclusively live European rugby this festive season, including the Toulon v Leinster Champions Cup match on Sky Sports 3 this Sunday from 3pm, and the reverse fixture exclusively live on 19 December.

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Alan Waldron

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