Felipe Contepomi has insisted that Leinster are in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals on merit after they were given a walkover against Toulon.
The Pro14 champions were due to play Toulon at the RDS Arena last Friday, but the game was cancelled at late notice due to a positive coronavirus case in the French club’s squad, meaning Leinster progressed to the next round.
Leinster backs coach Contepomi was speaking to the media ahead of Saturday’s match against Exeter Chiefs and rejected the suggestion that winning the Champions Cup would be less of an achievement this year.
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“You’re playing against the best teams in Europe and it’s the situation. You have to get on with it and sometimes the hardest part is adapting, and we’ve been having to adapt all the time,” Contepomi explained.
“You are preparing for one game and suddenly you don’t play. You’re frustrated and you’ve put in all the effort and then you have to turn the page and do some things.
“Sometimes the best thing is to keep on playing. It’s tougher to adapt. But that’s the way it has to be done. It’s been like that for everyone.”
‘We’re talking about the best eight teams in Europe now’
The former Leinster and Argentina fly-half used Sale Sharks’ situation as an example of the unusual nature of this season’s Champions Cup.
The English club lost both of their pool matches in this season’s tournament, but qualified for the last 16 nonetheless and now find themselves in the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup having beaten Scarlets at the weekend.
“You can see Sale, they are in a quarter-final and I think they lost two games. Would that not be merited if they go all the way and win it? They’ll be good winners,” Contepomi said.
“They still have to go to La Rochelle now and then whoever gets to the semi-final will be a huge game and whoever gets to the final, it will be an even bigger game.
“So we are talking about the best eight teams in Europe now and that’s the way it is, it’s the reality. It wouldn’t be far off [the best teams in Europe].
“You can start chucking in a few other names but there wouldn’t be that many other teams out of the best eight in Europe that are there now.”