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“Let’s go out and win this thing” says Rassie

(Pictured, Francis Saili, man for the big occasion)
By Aoife Danagher
NEXT Saturday will see Munster and Scarlets clash in what is set to be a cracker of a Guinness PRO12 Championship final. Last night Munster beat Ospreys in a thriller in Thomond Park and with a number of Munster players leaving at the end of the season it was the perfect way for both Donnacha Ryan and Francis Saili to play their last game in the red shirt at the world famous stadium.
Speaking after the game Munster captain Peter O’Mahony spoke of how happy he was that the departing players got the send off they deserved: “To be able to send them off from Thomond Park with this victory was great but obviously there is another one to go for us. Donners has been an incredible servant to the club and the country. It is nice to be able to see our fans give him a good round of applause because he deserves nothing more. Obviously Frankie has been through a lot here and he is in unbelievable form. He was excellent last year when we struggled and then he had a few knocks. He has come into some fabulous form the last couple of months and continues to be a game breaker. He did that today and was very classy. Its’ nice to be able to send them off from Thomond Park on a nice one but there is obviously still a big one to go.”
Having beaten Leinster in the semi final on Friday night in Dublin, O’Mahony is well aware of the strength and depth that Scarlets have: “We are coming up against a seriously quality side. They are the inform team of the moment. They showed on Friday night how good and dangerous they can be and the quality of players they have in their team is impressive. It is going to be a huge challenge for us. We are delighted that we got this far, we are delighted that that we put ourselves in this position to win trophies now but is going to be a big challenge”
Having reached two semi finals this year and now one final Rassie Erasmus, director of rugby, spoke of the challenge that lies ahead next weekend. “We are proud of how the season went and how the players have grown and how the coaches have grown. The management team come closer and worked closer. There were a lot things that were a first for us. Even if we didn’t reach the final we felt we were improving and now we are in a final. We are in with a chance and we would be so stupid not to go full out and win this thing. In saying that we have, of course, big respect for Scarlets. They gave us a good hiding at home the last time and on Friday with fourteen men they beat Leinster at home. The task is tough but we do believe if we do things right and train well and execute well we will be in with a chance.”
Speaking about the departure of Ryan and Saili and how the victory last night was a great way for the two to remember their last game in Thomond Park, Rassie said “It is nice but is emotional. Donnacha has been here for years, he is ten times more a Munster man than I will ever be. Frankie has done wonderful things in the years he has been here. He wanted to stay. It was a tough decision we had to make and it shows what he feels for the club. He is mature about it and he wants to finish on a high. He can’t wait for next week. It’s sad. It is sad to loose guys like that. We would love to keep them. “
Munster have had a phenomenal season this year and the bond between supporters and players has grown even stronger. Rassie also spoke of how much the squad wanted to give something back to the supporters:
“The players decided that they are tired of us not giving back to the community. They wanted to say thank you to the supporters. They wanted to work hard, they wanted to play for Axel. They wanted to get it right. It is definitely a massive team effort from the medical staff right through to the players and the management team.
“We had a tough time this season with injuries to Conor and long term injuries to Jean Kleyn. They’ve had tough times that aren’t so visible to the outside that they had to get through this season. To get to a final is the nicest thing. It’s for the supporters. We would like to win for the supporters, for ourselves as well, but we would like to win for them. We are proud to be here and we got a chance.”

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