'Time for Warriors to justify Heineken Cup spot'
October 9, 2013
Sean Maitland - the kilted Kiwi © PA Photos
Glasgow Warriors winger Sean Maitland has called on the Scottish sides to deliver in this season's Heineken Cup and justify their qualification places in the process.
The battle is still raging over the future of the Heineken Cup with Premiership Rugby and the Top 14 organisers Ligue Nationale de Rugby showing no signs of backing down from their collective desire to play in the newly formed and club run Rugby Champions Cup next season.
Heineken Cup organisers European Rugby Cup Ltd is hopeful compromise can be found within the Union-run structure. However, teams both in the Aviva Premiership and Top 14 harbour misgivings over the distribution of wealth, revenue and the qualification process currently in place for European rugby.
At present, both Scotland sides are guaranteed a place in the Heineken Cup regardless of where they finish in the RaboDirect PRO12 ,a process those in the Top 14 and Premiership deem to be flawed.
Glasgow's record in the tournament is fairly awful and have not progressed through the group stages since 1997-98. In total, they have won just 26 games from 85 played in the competition stretching back 17 years. Now Maitland says that must improve.
"With the row that has been going on about the Heineken Cup, I suppose there is a pressure on us to justify our place in the competition, to show we deserve our place," Maitland said. "The last few years, we have established ourselves in the PRO12 but we haven't done too much in the Heineken Cup.
"If you look at the likes of Leinster and Munster, to become a great team, you have to make that next step into the top level of European rugby. Edinburgh have done that but not Glasgow, so that is something we are definitely looking to do. But we have got a pretty good pool and think we can get to that next step."
However, the task of notching up win number 27 could hardly be any tougher for Glasgow. They travel to Toulon on Sunday, the current Heineken Cup holders and Maitland is fully aware of the challenges Bernard Laporte's side will pose.
"The statistics don't lie," Maitland added. "Toulon are European champions for a reason. They haven't lost at home for a while either and we know we are going into the lions' den, a cauldron.
"But there is a lot of self-belief in our team too. We have won five from five in the PRO12 and those results don't lie either. We know we have the firepower to go down to Toulon and compete well. They haven't had their best performances in their last few games. They have got big names on paper but we definitely think we have got the team to beat them too."
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