CONOR O’SHEA will keep Harlequins playing the high-tempo rugby that put Munster to the sword when the Londoners meet Michael Cheika’s Stade Francais tonight.
With a place in next year’s Heineken Cup competition on offer, the stakes could not be higher.
O’Shea’s first season in charge at The Stoop since taking on the director of rugby role has been a progressive one and the Irishman is committed to putting his stamp on the team.
“We are not changing how we play. We can only control ourselves, we cannot control what Stade are doing,” said O’Shea, who will send out the same starting XV which defeated Munster.
“There’s a style that suits our team and we know if we can play with a good, quick tempo then we are difficult to beat. We know we are confident and know we will be in this game and have enough to win it. The only thing we want for the players from this game is to get what they deserve.”
Former Leinster boss Cheika is also bidding for silverware in his first season, having led the Irish province to the 2008 Magners League title and the 2009 Heineken Cup.
“We’ve still got a long way to go because the 80 minutes in the final is going to be pretty torrid and we’ll have to have our heads on if we want to get anything out of it,” said Cheika.
“But we’ve got a chance and it keeps the club on the front foot. It’s something to look forward to and there will be a big atmosphere with the two games in Cardiff.
“We’ve been criticised a lot this year about our character. People don’t mind putting the boot in from the outside when things aren’t going well.
“There’s been a lot of stuff going on inside the club but we’ve actually kept pretty solid as a team. Sure, we haven’t played great all the time but that’s a signal of where our level is at the moment and we’ve obviously got plans to improve that. “If we can give ourselves a chance to play in the Heineken Cup next year, then great. Qualifying is not going to solve lots of problems for us, though.
There’s no point just being in it, we’ve got to be in a position to do well when we’re in it.”
Meanwhile, Harlequins wing Ugo Monye has revealed he turned down a double-your-money offer from Racing Metro to stay at Harlequins last summer.
“I was seriously tempted to go to France but this is my ninth season at Harlequins and I felt my work here was not done. I stayed for moments like this (Amlin final),” Monye said.
“I have only won one major trophy and I didn’t want to leave and look back in five years and think I’d had nine good years but I hadn’t achieved that much.”
“I knew the potential of the boys, I knew where this team was going and I wanted to be around.”
HARLEQUINS: M Brown; G Camacho, G Lowe, J Turner-Hall, U Monye; N Evans, D Care; J Marler, J Gray, J Johnston; O Kohn, G Robson; M Fa’asavalu, C Robshaw (capt), N Easter.
Replacements: M Cairns, C Jones, M Lambert, P Browne, W Skinner, D Moore, R Clegg, R Chisholm.
STADE FRANCAIS: M Rodriguez; J Arias, M Bastareaud, G Bousses, D Camara; L Beauxis, J Dupuy; R Roncero, R Bonfils, D Attoub; T Palmer, Pascal Pape; J Haskell, A Burban, S Parisse (capt).
Replacements: D Weber, R Gerber, A Joly, A Marchois, P Rabadan, J Leguizamon, N Oelschig, O Phillips.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland).
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