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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 20 April 2021

James Hart targeting Heineken Cup qualification with Grenoble

The Irish scrum-half feels a home win over Clermont in two weeks’ time will put his team in the driving seat for a top six finish.

James Hart starts another backline move for Grenoble.
James Hart starts another backline move for Grenoble.
Image: Grenoble Rugby via Twitter

GRENOBLE SCRUM-HALF JAMES HART believes the next two weeks could cement his team’s place in the upper echelons of the Top 14.

The Isere-based side, who were only promoted to the top division in 2012, are currently fourth in the league after a run of good form over December and January. Grenoble are fourth in the league standings and will hope to be in the top six — ensuring Heineken Cup qualification — by the season’s end.

Hart kicked 10 points in the club’s 25-19 victory over Perpignan last weekend but was helped off in the second-half after losing two teeth in attempting to tackle David Marty. The Dubliner and his teammates have this weekend off but already have Bordeaux, next week’s opponents, in their sights.

He told, “We were delighted to get the win [over Perpignan] even if it was not the prettiest. It is something we have been good at this season — eeking wins out. The rolling mauls were part of our game-plan and we might have over-used it in the game but you can’t argue with three tries.

“If we get something out of the Bordeaux game we’ll really be doing well. We then have Clermont at home the week after that. It will be a massive test. The league table, from third to eighth, is ridiculously close at the moment. I keep looking at the table after our games and it doesn’t get any easier.”

Grenoble, who have Bernard Jackman and Mike Prendergast on the coaching staff, have no players involved in Six Nations duty so will seek to take advantage of opponents with weakened squads. They have five home games and four away games left, too, so are well placed for a top six finish.

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Hart missed out on an Ireland call-up for the Six Nations so is contenting himself with setting up satellite TV to watch the Irish games on RTE. He believes Ireland are well stacked in the scrum-half department with first-choice Conor Murray fortunate to have so many able deputies. “I don’t know how many years Isaac Boss or Eoin Reddan have left but they are both playing really well and putting their hands up for selection,” he said.

Hart believes Joe Schmidt will transfer his provincial coaching skills to the Test level and ‘will get it right with Ireland’. He added, “If Ireland could get off to a good start it could be a special year for them. There could be a Grand Slam or a Six Nations title, at least, on the cards. If they can keep their main guys fit and playing well they will be a force to be reckoned with.”

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Patrick McCarry

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