Kevin McLaughlin eager for return as Leinster look to end season on high

Ticket for Pro12 final selling well – but first up for Leinster is small matter of Toulon

From left, Glasgow Warriors’ Tommy Seymour, Munster’s Donncha O’Callaghan, Leinster’s Kevin McLaughlin, holding the Pro12 trophy, Ospreys’ Tyler Ardron and Ulster’s Rory Best  at the Kingspan Stadium, Belfast. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

From left, Glasgow Warriors’ Tommy Seymour, Munster’s Donncha O’Callaghan, Leinster’s Kevin McLaughlin, holding the Pro12 trophy, Ospreys’ Tyler Ardron and Ulster’s Rory Best at the Kingspan Stadium, Belfast. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

The gathering at the Kingspan Stadium was about promoting the Guinness Pro12’s run-in and the Belfast final, but there was no avoiding the European Champions Cup semi-finals.

While the news was good regarding ticket sales for the Pro12’s final on May 30th – there are just over 400 terrace tickets remaining on public sale with each finalist still to receive their 2,000 tickets once the two teams are known – this weekend’s European games and Leinster’s season-defining clash with Toulon in Marseilles on Sunday loomed large throughout.

Leinster’s Kevin McLaughlin is hopeful he will be involved in Matt O’Connor’s plans – for what would be the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery following last December’s Connacht game. “We’re 80 minutes away from making the European final but we also know that in the back of our minds we’ve got to come here [to the Kingspan] and win to keep our [Pro12] season alive,” McLaughlin said.

The hard way

Still, McLaughlin remained defiantly upbeat that the under-pressure O’Connor and his squad can get the better of the back-to-back European champions. “We’ve got to play close to the perfect game if we’re going to win in France.

“We know on our day we can beat them, it’s just about producing the performance on the day and hopefully things will go our way.

“Obviously we’re going to give it everything. We’ve learnt a lot from last year’s quarter-final.

“We have to be a bit smarter in the way we play them and try to up the tempo a bit. We’ve got to play away from their strengths, and they have lots of strengths.”

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