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Johnny Sexton: 'I think Munster softened Toulouse up for us a little bit'

By Michael Scully

Johnny Sexton has suggested that Munster softened Toulouse up for Leinster as the Blues progressed to the Heineken Champions Cup final.

Speaking after today's comprehensive 40-17 defeat of the reigning champions from France, the Leinster skipper referred to the effort that his team had to put in to stop Toulouse playing their dangerous attacking game to the full at the Aviva Stadium.

"We train hard," said Sexton. "It's one of the things we pride ourselves on. Stuart (Lancaster) works us hard during the week.

"But at the same time we knew that Toulouse played 100 minutes last week and the emotional game that they went through, I think Munster softened them up for us a little bit and they came here probably not at their best.

"But we were close to it and we have to go again in the final because Racing and La Rochelle are two top quality sides, La Rochelle beat us last year and we've had tough battles with Racing over the years."

Munster had taken Toulouse to penalty kicks at the same venue only seven days earlier, with the sides deadlocked after 100 minutes.

The decider takes place in Marseille in a fortnight's time and the outcome of the all-French semi-final in Lens will be known tomorrow afternoon.

Sexton celebrates Josh van der Flier’s try (©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo)

Sexton said that was "incredibly proud" of his side's performance, but warned that Leinster still had so much work to do to become champions for the fifth time, which has been their aspiration since their 2018 victory over Racing in Bilbao.

They also made the 2019 decider, only to fall to Saracens.

"Any time you get to a final you're extremely happy, but in some ways it's only half done," said the 36-year-old.

"The last time we were in a final against Saracens we got out-played, it was a special day in Newcastle for the wrong reasons but our crowd turned up and we just didn't on the day.

"But we've got to learn from that lesson and hopefully go one step further this year.

"I think it's the experiences, both positive and negative. So we have the Saracens final to look back on, but we have also been a champion team before and we can look back on that.

"It's largely the same group, there hasn't been a lot of change over the years, so we're going to draw on all our experiences and hopefully go one step further."

Sexton had an outstanding game and said felt "incredibly" happy to be playing on this big stage at this stage of his career.

"They're two environments that I'm lucky to be part of, in Leinster and Ireland," he told BT Sport.

"That's why I'm still playing, because I absolutely love coming in every day with these guys and the management in both camps, I'm still loving it and hopefully proving my worth."

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