Gordon D’Arcy is in his 16th season as a Leinster player, but after all those years the defeats still hurt just the same.

“Defeat’s not really something you take well in any way, shape or form. The manner of the defeat (against Toulon) probably leaves a bit of a bad taste in the mouth.”

He is matter of fact about how things went in the Stade Mayol: “Toulon took their chances, we had two or three and we took one of them.”

D’Arcy says, however, that he is just as eager to retain Leinster’s RaboDirect PRO12 title as he would have been to secure a fourth Heineken Cup victory with the province.

“Players always deal with what’s coming next week. For us the next thing in hand is the PRO12. I’ve played at Leinster for so many years when we didn’t ever get a chance at competing for silverware. I would be as hungry for the (PRO12) trophy as I would be for the Heineken Cup.”

Central to this push for the PRO12 title, and for the future of Leinster Rugby, is the group of young players that are breaking into the first team at the povince (and in some cases breaking into the international setup). Some senior figures may be departing at the end of the season, but D’Arcy believes that the future is very bright.

“There’s two big figures moving; one upstairs and one guy’s retiring. There’s still a core group of players that have been there for a long time, a lot of younger guys starting to come through: Dave Kearney, Jordi Murphy, Dippy, Rhys, Marty Moore.”

D’Arcy also says that the technical ability of a player like Noel Reid is just as much of a joy to watch as the power of a Mathieu Bastareaud.

With these young players forming a new core at Leinster over the next few years, D’Arcy believes that Leinster can continue to compete, for now though he is focused on the conclusion to this season, and the narrow margins between victory and defeat in the Stade Mayol.

“We’ve had a very good season so far. We’re competing for the Rabo. We deal with Steffon Armitage and don’t give away three penalties and it’s a different result in the south of France.”