The statements ahead of Clermont vs. Toulon

Here are the main statements of the Toulon and Clermont staff and players ahead of the Champions Cup quarter-final between the two teams, on Sunday, at the Stade Marcel-Michelin.
Mike Ford, RCT manager: “We’re still on course for the Champions Cup and the Top 14 and we travel to Clermont for the quarter-final. This is a very exciting challenge and we know we’re far from being the favourites. Clermont is a very difficult team to beat at home, but they lost against Montpellier two weeks ago and Bayonne scored 30 points against them. We know we can do it. It’s possible to do it, as our squad includes many great players, with much experience. We have much respect for Clermont, but we’ll try to edge them out.”
Eric Escande, RCT scrum-half: “Clermont are the favourites. When we look at the way they’ve been playing since the beginning of the season, we can’t say we play better than they do. Just compare their game with ours. So, we’ll have to take a humble approach ahead of this away game and, then, we’ll have to deliver on the pitch. I think we have to keep a low profile this week. No need to talk too much. We have to remain in our bubble, believe in ourselves and in our game plan. A good result will only come about if we decide it. Of course, we believe in ourselves – otherwise, we shouldn’t even go there! We know it’s going to be a difficult game, given the way they’ve been playing all season, but it’s a quarter-final and a knockout game. So, it’s going to be different.”
Leigh Halfpenny, RCT fullback: “You all know our story in this competition. We’d like to win the European Cup again, but we know it’s going to be difficult. We have to concentrate on ourselves and make a good preparation ahead of the game. Clermont are a very dangerous team. As the goal-kicker, I know I’ll have a role to play, but every player will have to deliver and I haven’t changed anything in my training this week.”
Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, RCT flanker: “We are both very excited and very cautious. If we lose the game, it’s over. We trust one another and we know our performances in away games this season have been poor, but we’re eighty minutes away from a possible semi-final. There is no miracle recipe: we have to work hard.”
Franck Azéma, Clermont manager: “Being the favourites is not that serious, is it? We finished as the top team in the European Cup group stage, but what matters now is the way we’re going to perform on Sunday. We fought hard to play the quarter-final at home. Let’s face it: given our initial results in the European Cup, it’s logical for us to be the favourites.”
Aurélien Rougerie, Clermont wing and centre: “All year long, we work to have the opportunity to play those kinds of games, against one of the best teams in Europe, in a stadium crowded with passionate supporters. We have to enjoy those moments and the best way to do it is to deliver. This week, we went to the training sessions with a large smile, we worked hard to play the quarter-final at home, in front of our supporters. Excitement is rising ahead of this confrontation and we’ll have to be on top of our game for eighty minutes. We’re not going to think about the away game against Toulon or the victory we earned against them at home earlier in the season. Both teams know that the knockout games are different.”
Camille Lopez, Clermont fly-half: “The team shows more and more maturity and this tells in our preparation ahead of this kind of game. We can’t say this game is like any other, because it is not the case, but we wish to keep in mind the pleasure to play as individuals and as a team. We’ll be up against a very physical team: to stand up to them, we’ll have to be up to scratch in the upcoming battle. Playing at home is an advantage, for sure, and the team also feels proud to play in such a stadium, in front of such supporters! This competition is very important to them and only victory will matter on Sunday.”
Sources: pre-game press conference,