Imanol eyes Toulouse scalp
Imanol Harinordoquy has vowed to banish the painful memories of 2006 with Heineken Cup final victory against Toulouse.
Last Updated: 21/05/10 8:24am
Biarritz powerhouse Imanol Harinordoquy has vowed to banish the painful memories of four years ago with victory in Saturday's all-French Heineken Cup final against Toulouse.
Harinordoquy was a part of the Biarritz side that suffered an agonising 23-19 defeat against Munster in the 2006 Millennium Stadium final.
And the France international admits the pain of that defeat is still lingering heading into this weekend's Stade de France showdown.
"That final is a very bitter memory," said Harinordoquy, who is hoping to inspire Biarritz to a first ever European crown.
"I didn't even want the runners-up medal. What drove me mad was the feeling that we were not ready for the event.
"The Millennium Stadium was heaving with 40-50,000 Irish supporters, and I think our players went to pieces. This time we won't make the same mistakes.
"When you think back to 2006, it was logical that we reached the final considering our form that season. Yet on the day, even though we had the best team on the field, we lost in Cardiff.
"This year I really believe in what we are doing. We are not favourites, but I really think we stand a chance.
"These are games that are won through your desire and group solidarity, and we have enough determination to bring the Heineken Cup back to Biarritz."
Three-time winners Toulouse head into the match as firm favourites, especially having contested the two previous all-French finals - winning at the expense of Perpignan (2003) and Stade Francais (2005).
And the threat of players such as France captain Thierry Dusautoir, centre Yannick Jauzion, full-back Clement Poitrenaud and fly-half David Skrela is not lost on Harinordoquy.
"I relish the prospect of playing against some of my international team-mates - it will give me a lot of extra motivation," he added.
"There are going to be some great heads-to-heads across the pitch, and I know I'm going to have to be at the top of my game.
"Toulouse are a model of consistency. In terms of squad, structure and results, they are certainly the number one in France - and probably Europe as well.
"I compare them slightly to the (New Zealand) All Blacks, especially when you see their three-quarter play and how fast they react on the counter-attack.
"On paper they are the favourites, and they are a team that we don't often beat, but I believe we can beat them.
"I am like most children - I always want what I don't have. It's so hard to get to a Heineken Cup final, and winning it would be so dear to me."