Clermont haunted by past Final
Thu, 24 Apr 2014 08:35
Biggest disappointment of my career
Hooker Benjamin Kayser admits that the pain of losing last year's European Cup Final will never leave him.
This is even if Clermont can see off Saracens on Saturday to make it to the final and potentially right the wrongs to claim the Cup in Cardiff next month.
Clermont were beaten 15-16 by fellow French giants Toulon in last season's fianl in Dublin as their dream of a maiden European Cup crown fell at the final hurdle.
Kayser, who was also a losing finalist with Stade Francais in 2005 and Leicester Tigers in 2009, says the pain of that narrow defeat is a constant reminder as to just how much a European Cup winners' medal would mean to him this time around.
"It was the biggest disappointment of my career, I'm not going to lie," said Kayser.
"At the beginning of the season, it was hard for us to completely erase it from our minds. It will never be erased, whatever happens.
"Even if we win the European Cup for the next three years in a row, the disappointment of that game will never go away completely.
"But as a team we have managed to bounce back from it so we don't really speak about how much it hurts.
"We've just been reminding ourselves of how much we're willing to put on the table to get the win.
"But before we can think of a final, we have huge opposition and a huge challenge on Saturday against Saracens."
Memories of last year may remain raw but a look back at the last time Clermont faced Saracens provides much more comfortable reading for Kayser and his team.
Saracens were downed 3-22 at Vicarage Road at the quarter-final stage two seasons ago as Clermont produced a superb display packed with power, pace and precision to ease into a first appearance in the final four.
"The worst thing for us to be thinking about going into the game is that we beat them 22-3 in 2012," added Kayser.
"That's not going to happen again. They are a much better team now.
"That game went unbelievably well for us. We didn't expect to win like that.
"Saracens were a very dominant team at the time and we managed to do really well. But the teams have evolved since then so there is really no point thinking about that game again.
"Nothing will be written before the final whistle.
"We will have to be extremely clinical, extremely disciplined and have a fantastic defence. Saracens are a team that will have a right go at the opposition so we need to show a lot of composure in defence.
"The influence of the Vunipola brothers is huge and Chris Ashton has joined the club - they've got a lot more of a threat in their ball-carrying.
"They're very, very clinical, very well organised and their strategy is well in place.
They've got threats everywhere, in the forwards and the backs, and they're more of a complete side than they were two years ago."
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