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Coach, player sum up Munster’s chances of victory

AFTER their 50-14 Guinness PRO12 win away to Zebre last week-end the Munster squad’s focus this week switches to next Saturday’s quarter final Champions Cup clash with Toulouse in Thomond Park, 5.45.
The past seven days had been interesting and apart from the bonus point win over the Italians there was the speculation that Rassie Erasmus could be returning to coach his native Springboks and the breaking news that Donnacha Ryan had signed a deal with Racing 97 in Paris.
Munster’s head coach told us that he wanted to concentrate on the big game ahead and did not want anything to take from the importance of Saturday’s fixture, so there would be no comment from him on the South African job.
New signing Jean Deysel travelled with the squad to Italy last week-end and is settling in well. According to players we spoke to, he will be a great addition to the Munster squad.
Rassie said that Munster could not afford to meet the offer that Donnacha Ryan was getting from the French club. The player had not been offered an Ireland contract so his move abroad was not totally surprising. We are disappointed to lose him go.”
So what about tomorrow’s game, we asked the Munster head coach: When you go through the players in the Toulouse squad you see all these names that are used to pressure games so it is going to be very close. We have used 50 players this season at various times and all of them have contributed so this game is not just big for the supporters but also for the whole squad. It would be great to get to the semi-final.”
Jaco Taute (pictured): “I have learned a lot of lessons in my life and I never take anything for granted. It is great to be part of occasions with Munster like the quarter final of the Champions Cup and I am very fortunate and very grateful to be part of that. Toulouse are a very good side with terrific players and we will have to be at our best to beat them. Thankfully, I’m fit and ready to go and it is going to be a massive occasion and one hell of a game.”
This will be the sixth match between the two former champions with the last four encounters all coming in the knockout stage (three Munster wins, one for Toulouse).
Munster have won 31 of their last 34 home games (L3) in the European Cup and have won seven of eight home quarter-final ties. Ulster in 2012 are the only club to win a quarter-final at Thomond Park.
Toulouse have lost their last two quarter-final matches (including a 47-23 defeat at Thomond Park in 2014) and the last time they reached the semi-finals in 2011, they lost to Leinster.
Munster and Toulouse have the tournament record number of appearances in the knockout stage with 16 apiece
This will be the 157th match for both clubs in the competition.
Munster conceded four tries in the pool stage, fewer than any other side with all four scores coming in the second half.
Toulouse have lost six of their last seven away games in the Champions Cup, with their one win in this period coming against Zebre in Parma.
CJ Stander made exactly 100 carries in the pool stage, 22 more than any other player. He and Jamie Heaslip (who misses Leinster’s quarter-final against Wasps) are the only two players to have played every minute of the competition to date.
Toulouse averaged more offloads per game than any other side in the pool stage (23.7), while Joe Tekori made 21, six more than any other player.
Munster: Simon Zebo; Darren Sweetnam, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony Capt., Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Rhys Marshall, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Dave O’Callaghan, Jack O’Donoghue, Duncan Williams, Francis Saili, Andrew Conway.
Toulouse: 15. Maxime Médard; 14. Yoann Huget, 13. Gaël Fickou, 12. Florian Fritz, 11. Paul Perez; 10. Jean-Marc Doussain, 9. Sébastien Bézy; 1. Cyril Baille, 2. Leonardo Ghiraldini, 3. Census Johnston; 4. Richie Gray, 5. Yoann Maestri; 6. Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 7. Yacouba Camara, 8. François Cros Replacements: 16. Julien Marchand, 17. Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18. Dorian Aldegheri, 19. Tala Gray, 20. Piula Fa’asalele, 21. Joe Tekori, 22. Luke McAlister, 23. Arthur Bonneval.
Referee, JP Doyle, RU.

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