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Billy Stickland/INPHO Shane Horgan thinks this year's competition is a tough ask for the Irish sides.
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Champions Cup can be just the tonic for World Cup heartache says Shane Horgan
However, the former Leinster winger says his team will find this year’s competition difficult.

AFTER IRELAND’S DISAPPOINTING 2007 Rugby World Cup, Shane Horgan would have been forgiven for never wanting to see sight nor sign of a rugby field for a long time.

However, the former Leinster and Ireland wing says nothing could be further from the truth.

Indeed, getting back on the field is something that can help players who feel they’ve underperformed on rugby’s biggest stage, especially when they’ve a tournament as high profile as the Champions Cup to return to.

“I think it depends on how the World Cup went for your team or you as an individual,” Horgan said this week.

“There is definitely an emotional toll that it takes out of you and that’s the case whether you’ve done better than you expected or worse than you expected.

“My memory of 2007 — which went disastrously wrong — and I remember being very, very keen to get back on the rugby field as quickly as possible and really wanted to shake off that tournament and sort of feel good about myself.

“There are a lot of players from the southern hemisphere who’ll be playing in the Champions Cup who will be coming in on a high but, for others, it maybe didn’t go as well as they would have liked so they’ll be keen to get back into competition, particularly one as high profile as this.”

Back in 2007, Horgan’s Leinster failed to make it out of their group and the Sky Sports pundit says things may be just as difficult for the Blues this season too.

Indeed Horgan says Munster — winners of the competition that season — are the best placed of the Irish sides to make it into the knockout stages.

“I think it’s going to be very tricky for any of the Irish teams this year if you look at the groups, in particular, the one that Leinster’s in is a horror group. The only thing you might say is that, because there are so many good teams in it, they’re going to beat each other.

“It’s still very difficult to see them coming out of it. That said, if they do manage to come out of it you think they’ll be in a fantastic position.

“The Irish team most likely to come out of their group is Munster with an Italian team in there. It should be 10 points for them. And, even though Stade Français are in there, we’re still not entirely sure where the Champions Cup is on their radar.

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“I do think that Ulster, things have changed for them just because of how bizarrely the European season went for them. I’ve been very hopeful for a few years that Ulster could make a real challenge in Europe but they just haven’t quite got there.

“The focus for Irish teams has to be getting out of the group, it’s a different competition after Christmas.”

Sky Sports will show live action from every round of the European Champions and Challenge Cup including Oyonnax v Ulster and Munster v Benetton Treviso this Saturday.

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