Full Squad for Heineken Cup

Success in the Heineken Cup is usually built around a strong defence, some big players in key positions and a goal-kicker with nerves of steel.

Most the games are quite tight and they carry a lot more pressure than normal games.

You need control from your scrum-half and fly-half and a very good defence. Missed tackles can cost you very dearly the higher the level you are playing at because there are fewer chances around.

If you are playing against teams from the RaboDirect Pro 12, they tend to be more geared towards success in the Heineken Cup and rest key players for several of their league matches. This is the one that they want.

Look at Leinster, last year’s winners, they were desperate to win it, were extremely strong defensively and conceded very few tries.

I was at Leicester last year and we played against them in the quarter-final and found it very hard to break them down.

Defence wins titles – it’s always been that way.

You also need a goal-kicker that you can rely on for the game’s big moments.

In the tight matches against the big sides, a kick here or there can decide whether you go through or go home.

Speaking of which, New Zealand’s World Cup-winning goal-kicker Stephen Donald arrived at the club this week and get involved in his first few training sessions. It was good to meet him at last and he will further strengthen our squad.

We will need that because we have a tough group.

Glasgow are always very strong on home turf and have nailed some notable scalps over the years at Firhill.

Montpellier are now a major force in France and with the likes of Francois Trinh-Duc pulling the strings, it is easy to see why.

As for Leinster, well let’s just say they should pose a challenge.

In a competition which sees the best play the best, you wouldn’t expect anything else.

Buy tickets for Bath to watch Aviva Premiership, LV=Cup and Heineken Cup games.

Read more from Bath players Dan Hipkiss and Sam Vesty on their Living Rugby blog pages.

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