Kelleher on the hunt for trophies

A total of 254 players from 16 different nations are the proud owners of Heineken Cup winners’ medals – and former All Blacks ace scrum half Byron Kelleher is determined to join the elite.

Eight New Zealanders are on that roll of honour and Toulouse No 9 Kelleher wants to become Kiwi No 9 on that list.

Doug Howlett, Josh Kronfeld, Lifeimi Mafi, Finau Maka, Isitolo Maka, Grant Ross, Rua Tipoki and Joe Ward may have beaten Kelleher to the honour but the 33-year-old is itching to be next.

“There were two things in my mind when I came over here after the 2007 World Cup,” said Kelleher.

“One was to win the Top 14 and the other was to win the Heineken Cup.

“It has been a while since we put our hands on the trophy – when we won the 2005 final at Murrayfield – and I would love to do that because that was my dream when I left New Zealand.

“I wanted to make sure I was part of a Toulouse team that won the competition.”

Kelleher has tasted domestic success with Toulouse as a Bouclier winner and is proud of that success.

“Not many Kiwis have won the Top 14 either,” he said, “but the Heineken Cup is enormous for Toulouse and as the club have not won the competition for a few years there is even more desire to put that right.

“There is a good smell in the air here and a good feeling in the team while on a personal level to get a taste of the tournament and a feel for it is a really important factor for me.”

The Toulouse love affair with the Heineken Cup goes without question and they pride themselves on being the only club to win the trophy three times.

Now the opportunity to be the first team to win four European titles – London Wasps are also on three with two Heineken Cups and an Amlin Challenge Cup to their credit – is a major spur for the aristocrats of the French game.

And with the 15th final being played at Stade de France on 22 May, the chance to appear in the showpiece occasion on home soil is another plus.

“Historically we have a great track record in the Heineken Cup – we have been in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, finals and won it three times,” said Kelleher.

“With the performance we put together against Harlequins, and if we carry on in that way, then we will have the confidence that the French need to continue on to touch the trophy.

“It is an extra incentive for us that the final is to be played in Paris. Our initial ambition is to get a home quarter-final first and right now we can’t look past that objective.

“Our concentration is creating a home quarter-final and then winning that game and it would be good if we can achieve that.
“The players are thriving on the opportunity of touching the trophy and bringing it back to Toulouse again.

“There was a lot of pressure on this game. We knew we had to win and win well. It shows the depth in the team because it’s a long season.

“Some players needed a rest but others have come in, stepped up to the plate and done a good job. It has been a great all-round team effort. We’re happy.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.