Former Leinster lock Nathan Hines believes what current employers Clermont Auvergne give up in European experience they will more than make up for in international nous ahead of Sunday’s Heineken Cup clash.
Hines knows all about the RaboDirect PRO12 leaders’ weapons having helped them to claim the top prize in Europe last year – coming from behind to beat Northampton Saints in the final, 33-22.
However in domestic terms his big-spending French employers – taking part in their first Heineken Cup semi-final – give up a considerable amount of experience to the Irish province.
But while admitting his former side are a better outfit than last season Hines is adamant the experience of Clermont – with the likes of World Cup finalists Aurelien Rougerie, Morgan Parra and Julien Bonnaire – can win through.
“If I’m thinking about the final already, it’s not good and I can’t get sidetracked,” said Hines. “All I have noticed is I have played for three of the clubs — Clermont, Leinster and Edinburgh — in the semi-finals, which is not bad.
“I have told my team-mates that while Leinster might have a bit more experience than us at this level of the competition, we have players who are used to big events like the World Cup final so it’s pretty balanced.
“They will have changed some things from when I was there so we cannot guess what they will do.
“They have some new players like Brad Thorn who replaced me so I think they’re even stronger than last season.
“They have made great progress in the scrum.
“If we can deprive them of the ball we can win.”