Conor O'Shea refuses to wear 'favourites' mantle

 

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea has rejected the tag of favourites ahead of today's LV= Cup final against Sale at Sixways.

Quins are looking to secure the first of a potential trio of trophies when they meet a Sharks side struggling near the foot of the Aviva Premiership table.

The defending Premiership champions are well placed to retain their crown, and have also made it to the last eight of the Heineken Cup.

The London club have already shown their final pedigree after securing Amlin Challenge Cup glory in 2011 and beating Leicester at Twickenham to lift the league title last May.

Sale, meanwhile, were bottom of the Premiership until London Welsh were last week docked five points for fielding an ineligible player – a decision the Exiles have appealed. They have also lost their last six meetings with Quins.

But O'Shea believes league positions will have no bearing on who lifts the season's first silverware. He told Harlequins TV: "It's not about favourites, they have got some energy from the London Welsh decision and they have some outstanding players, as they showed in their performance against Saracens in the semi-final.

"They have players like Andy Powell, James Gaskell, Jonny Leota in the centre and Sam Tuitupou is coming back, and we know they play a style that is good to watch."

O'Shea has encouraged his side to focus on their performance, and let the result take care of itself: "We say to the players that it's not just about winning," he said.

"We want to win – we are not stupid in that sense – and we know we are judged on results.

"But we know what gets results, and that's our performances. So we want to enjoy, put our game out there and see where it takes us."

O'Shea has rewarded the XV who saw off Bath in last weekend's semi-finals by sticking with the same starting line-up. Sale, playing in their first major final since 2006, move Nick Macleod to full-back as Will Addison comes into the centre. Nathan Fowles gets the nod at scrum-half while Alasdair Dickinson, Marc Jones and Tony Buckley start in the front row.

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