Heineken Cup: Former Wales No 8 Scott Quinnell tips Irish success
Last Updated: 01/10/13 5:39pm
Scott Quinnell: Foresees Irish success in the Heineken Cup
Former Wales and Lions No 8 Scott Quinnell believes the Irish sides are major contenders ahead of another mouth-watering Heineken Cup season.
Leinster have won the competition three times since 2009 and with rivals Ulster falling to them in the 2012 final, Quinnell expects both to progress deep into Europe's elite club tournament.
He told Sky Sports News: "History suggests we might have an Irish winner. With Munster's young squad coming through and Ulster playing well the last couple of years.
"Of course they missed out a couple of years ago and Leinster have been the form side in Europe the last four or five seasons.
"They now have Matt O'Connor in as head coach and for Brian O'Driscoll, it's his last season so there's a little bit more motivation there for them. You never know.
"The Ospreys are the strongest of the Welsh sides in the RaboDirect PRO12. They have a big Lions contingent in their pack with Alun-Wyn Jones, Ian Evans and Justin Tipuric.
"They've got a good side coming into this and form. It's just about keeping their players fit because that tour Down Under took a huge amount out of those guys and with the format being six rounds culminating in January, hopefully they have a good chance if they keep fit. They're in a very difficult pool."
Last year's final saw Jonny Wilkinson's Toulon upset favourites Clermont by a single point in Dublin and with French clubs such as Racing Metro spending big again to snare the likes of Jonny Sexton from Leinster, Quinnell is urging the Welsh Rugby Union to come up with measures to ensure the best homegrown talent stays in Wales.
Quinnell added: "It's very concerning. We want the best players playing in Wales. Hopefully we can do that and can come up with a formula. Central contracts worked in Ireland so well where the players stay and play for their provinces. It's up to the WRU to throw some money at the regions and the clubs.
"They need to have the best players playing. We can't have the likes of Leigh Halfpenny, Jonathan Davies, Alun-Wyn Jones and Sam Warburton leaving - not just for the provinces but for the youngsters. They want to see these guys in the flesh."
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