Clermont have learned from Sarries loss says Lopez
TOP 14 SPOTLIGHT: Clermont have learned from their heartbreaking European Cup defeat to Saracens and are ready to make amends in Sunday's Top 14 final against Toulon, France international Camille Lopez warned.
The side from the Massif Central loss 17-38 in Edinburgh last month, missing the European title at the final hurdle for the third time in five years.
"We've earned the right to replay a final. We've learned from last month's loss, I hope it will be beneficial for tomorrow," said the 28-year-old flyhalf.
Clermont have also finished Top 14 runners-up 11 times - most recently in 2015 - with just one title in 2010.
"I've been luckly since arriving at the club two years ago to play the final phase every year, big matches," said Lopez.
"Playing high level matches at top intensity allows you to build, acquire experience, regardless of the results, because we have often had negative results,"
Lopez is now desperate to finally lift a trophy as the only individual success the France flyhalf has won was a French Under-18 title with lower league Mauleon.
"We're competitors above all and want to win," added Lopez, who will not join up with the France squad for their South Africa tour to undergo unspecified surgery.
Brock James's departure for La Rochelle has aided Lopez's progression at Clermont with Sunday's final his 25th match this season.
"Unconsciously, the fact that Brock left may have influenced me. This allowed me to be more liberated.
"He was an important person in this club, he was very involved. Maybe even if I had some playing time, I would have stayed in the background a little more."
Pulling the strings for Toulon opposite Lopez will likely be Anthony Belleau, who gave Toulon a spot in the final with the last kick of their semi-final against La Rochelle, or perhaps Australian great Matt Giteau, who will be making his final appearance for Toulon.
"It doesn't matter which players are on the other side," said Lopez.
"What's important is our game, before looking at the Toulon team. My duel with the opposition flyhalf will not be the priority."