Magne has European warning for Cardiff; HEINEKEN CUP: Montferrand have mission.
WORLD-CLASS Montferrand flanker Olivier Magne has warned Cardiff they have no intention of surrendering this season's unbeaten Heineken Cup record at the Arms Park on January 5.
The game will be televised live and French star Magne said, "Our objective is to hold on to our unbeaten pool record."
Montferrand head pool five, three points clear of Cardiff, and David Young's team know that nothing less than both points will be good enough if they are to stay in the hunt of maintaining their proud record of always making at least the last eight.
And at the heart of the battle are almost certainly going to be Magne and his opposite No 7 Martyn Williams, the Wales flanker belatedly back in action after the shoulder damage suffered Down Under with the Lions against ACT Brumbies.
"It is not going to be easy as we have to first beat Cardiff away, then take on Glasgow, who could be playing for every chance of qualifying when they come to us on January 13, " said Magne.
"First though it's Cardiff, and even though we took a beating there two years ago, I believe we have made huge strides as a team since and we certainly have the team to be able to do some damage.
"We have shown in our results so far this season - at Glasgow and Northampton - that we can produce results away from home. We want to build on our home match against Cardiff. If we can reproduce that kind of performance at the Arms Park, there is no reason why we can't get a result.
"Our squad has been together for two years, our physical preparation is optimal and we know each other very well. We try to improve in every game.
"In order to win over there though, we have to be more tactically aware.
We tend to expose ourselves too much away from home by playing a wide, open game.
"That won't work in Cardiff. We will have to be more streetwise, play the basics well and use a kicking game more. We will have to be more patient and wait for them to make mistakes."
Magne admits it would be a dream to take his club to the Millennium Stadium for the Heineken Cup final in May.
"I love playing in the Millennium Stadium, even though I have some bad memories of losing the World Cup final there, " he said. "It is a magical arena.
"It is a goal for the club to win at least one title this year - the Heineken Cup or the French championship - but there is a long way to go yet in both competitions."
And when it comes to the potential Magne v Williams head-to-head, there are plenty of the mutual admiration society accolades flying around.
"Martyn is a very good player, " said Magne. "I have played against him on a number of occasions and, even though he may not be the biggest back-row player on the circuit, he is an exemplary team player.
He gives a huge amount to his teammates."
Williams said, "Olivier is one of the best, if not the best around. He is a great player and I have come up against him plenty of times - including when he was with Dax, Brive and now Montferrand.
"Montferrand have to be among the tournament favourites. They have a really exciting back line, and we have put ourselves up against it by losing in Glasgow. This time our fate is in other's hands, though our confidence is pretty high.
"As to what we have to do, that is fairly simple. We have to beat Montferrand at home and then try and pinch a win at Northampton."
CARDIFF TARGET: Montferrand's Olivier Magne
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|Publication:||Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||Dec 28, 2001|
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