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It will be a relentless battle

By Aidan Corr
BOTH on and off the field Munster’s Paul O’Connell is exceptional. Not many in the game have been so consistent and few are as capable when it comes to facing the media. Paul is also one of the most honest accessors of opposing sides coming into big games and his recognition of the strength of Toulouse this week sums up the huge challenge that faces Munster in Thomond Park on Saturday (1.30).

“It is certainly going to be 80 minutes of relentless rugby and we need to step up from last week-end’s performance against Leinster,” he commented.
“We were poor by our standards. We were well on top at scrum time but a few decisions went against us and Leinster dominated for periods in the second half. It was disappointing that we did not execute plays with the accuracy that we needed. We needed to keep the ball better and make that possession pay.”
Asked about the benefit home advantage will be to Munster on Saturday, Paul pointed out that it might be the first time that Toulouse had played here but they have been in situations like this before. We need to be more focused and we have not been particularly good in recent games. Toulouse have very big men in their side and with them you never know what’s coming. Their off-loading game could be a factor if the conditions are dry. They are incredibly big, skillful men and very hard to defend. The off-loading game comes naturally to them.”
On a more positive note, O’Connell said that Munster will be aware of their counter-attacking ability and their defence will be crucial to the outcome.
“I would prefer to be Leinster going to France than meeting Toulouse here but you have to take every game that comes you way in this competition. On big days like this they are one of the best teams in the competition. You can’t honesty put us down as favourites but we have the quality to do it.
“I think the fitness of our squad is very high at this stage of the season. From a personal point of view I wanted to play against Treviso to maintain my match fitness and last Saturday’s game was a good preparation for us. Home advantage will be an incentive and this is going to be a brilliant occasion.”

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