De Luca ready for Ulster test
Nick De Luca is determined Edinburgh's incredible European adventure continues beyond Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final with Ulster in Dublin.
Edinburgh have overcome the odds to reach the last four of Europe's premier club competition in a campaign which began with single-point victories over London Irish and Racing Metro, the latter in an 11-try 48-47 thriller at Murrayfield.
A last-gasp win in Paris over Racing helped Michael Bradley's men advance to the quarter-finals, where four-time champions Toulouse were ousted 19-14.
Once again Edinburgh are underdogs to advance to the May 19 final at Twickenham, after losing 42-20 and 38-16 in the two RaboDirect PRO12 clashes with Ulster this season, but De Luca is confident of an upset.
The 28-year-old Scotland centre said: "Toulouse was the biggest game in Edinburgh's history. Now this is the next one and we want there to be one more for this season.
"We'll be doing everything in our power to make that happen.
"It's a huge challenge. Beating Toulouse was a big thing for us, but Ulster have put 80 points past us this year and this is in our eyes a bigger challenge.
"We under-performed in both those games, not executing the basics well.
"We're looking forward to stepping up and showing our worth.
"We know exactly what they're going to throw at us. We've also got a few new tricks up our sleeves that we're hoping to surprise them with.
"We're looking forward to going over there, with the right attitude, to put down our game plan and executing it well."
While Edinburgh's RaboDirect PRO12 campaign has faded into near-insignificance, there are memories aplenty from the Heineken Cup thus far.
There is the try-scoring heroics from Tim Visser, Lee Jones, Ross Rennie and David Denton, Phil Godman's drop goal in Paris and captain Greig Laidlaw's nerveless kicking displays - but one moment stands out for De Luca.
It was when Jones' try sealed a bonus-point victory over London Irish and a home quarter-final ahead of Cardiff Blues.
Speaking at the launch of sales for Edinburgh's 2012/13 season ticket, De Luca said: "One of my favourite memories was the London Irish game here. I missed that game and it was one of the only games I've sat and watched.
"I just really enjoyed it. The final whistle went and I ran to watch the TV and the Cardiff game.
"It was great to see the crowd and the boys enjoying themselves so much.
"We're not taken seriously in Europe and we haven't been. Now hopefully people will stand up and recognise that on our day we're as good as anyone.
"Hopefully we can prove that this weekend. In the Rabo we've been poor and this is Rabo opposition, so we're looking to go out and shown them we can perform."
The recollections of the last trip to the Aviva Stadium are painful for De Luca and his international team-mates after Scotland's 32-14 loss to Ireland on March 10.
De Luca withdrew from the game after failing a fitness test on a hamstring injury in the warm-up, while Jones was knocked unconscious in the contest.
Denton, who is poised to line-up at blindside flanker on Saturday, was one of the few positives of Scotland's Wooden Spoon campaign in the Six Nations.
Denton and back-row colleagues Netani Talei and Ross Rennie have key roles to play this weekend, according to De Luca, who also hopes half-backs Mike Blair and Laidlaw can continue their fine form in Europe this term.
De Luca said: "The back row is a huge battle. Ulster's back-row is world class, but so is ours.
"The nine, 10 battle is going to have a big sway, as always, who is controlling the game.
"Hopefully our boys will come out on top."
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