Rugby Club: Nick Kennedy explains why it will be very difficult for Toulon to retain their Heineken Cup title

Last Updated: 15/10/13 4:43pm

Defending Champions

Toulon kick of their defence of the trophy on Sunday when they host Glasgow who are currently top of the Rabo Direct pro 12.

Toulon may be the bookies favourite to repeat the feat of last year, but Kennedy, who helped Toulon win the 2013 Heineken Cup, is not sure retaining the title is their main priority.

"It's going to be very difficult to back that up - everyone wants a piece of you and everyone wants to beat you," said Kennedy on the Rugby Club.

"We narrowly lost the Top 14 final last season and they really want to win that so I think that could be their focus this year.

"It is tough to do both as we found out last year - we played the Heineken Cup final and then six days later we were in a semi-final for the Top 14 and a week later onto the final. Because of the timings of it all it is very difficult thing to do."

Kennedy also revealed the culture at the club and the influence of Jonny Wilkinson that goes way beyond the big names and the even bigger salaries.

"The guys get on really well which really helps things. It really helps that they are led by Jonny, he's so humble and hard working - no one can really get big headed because you look at him and he really sets the example.

"Winning the Heineken Cup was one of the highlights of my career, I loved it. It was such a close final and to come through it and defend the way we did was amazing - prop Carl Hayman made 30 tackles, the most tackles on the day! That just shows the heart the lads had. Lock Bakkies Botha was right up there with tackles made - with these tight five guys doing all that hard work and then everything in the loose just shows what it means to them.

"They are no mercenaries - we got called that a lot in newspapers throughout the season but that just motivates you more and made us want to show people that we were a tight bunch and that we wanted to achieve things."

Hungry for success

Ieuan Evans, who won the Heineken Cup trophy with Bath in 1998, said that despite having a team of players who have won just about everything there is to win; the ambition within the team is plain to see.

"The hunger is the key aspect for me for their continued success," added Evans on the Rugby Club.

"For players who have won world cups what is next? Well they want more - they have got to where they are because they are hungry. That is why Roger Federer keeps on winning; that is why Tiger Woods keeps on winning - they want it again. Once you have tasted success once you want to taste it again."

Evans also believes that Toulon can compete on more than one front: "It is easy to dismiss them as a bunch of mercenaries as Nick said, but when you hear their president Mourad Boudjella talking about representing the area and what it means to them and you experience the stunning atmosphere at Stade Félix Mayol, it just shows it is more than purely money.

"Having a budget the size of small nation helps, they are able to bring in the likes of Bryan Habana and Drew Mitchell and add them to an already startling squad - that means they are able to attack on more than one channel - the Top 14 and the Heineken Cup."

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