Saints excited not daunted about facing Munster

Northampton Saints Director of rugby Jim Mallinder says that his players are “excited but not daunted” by the prospect of facing Munster tomorrow evening in the opening round of the 2009/10 Heineken Cup.


After a two-season break, the Saints return to the Heineken Cup with a home game against two-time champions Munster.

 

Franklin’s Gardens has been sold out for weeks, and while Mallinder is aware of the likely atmosphere at the Saints’ home ground he said that his approach has been the same as every other game.

 

“We are excited by being in the Heineken Cup,” he said.

 

“It is a superb competition in which you test yourselves against the top clubs in Europe, and they don’t come much bigger than Munster. They have a tradition of success in the tournament and are bringing a squad full of international and experienced players.

“But we aren’t daunted by playing them. We have earned our place in the Heineken Cup and believe we can compete. If we are to progress in Europe we have to win our home games, beginning tomorrow evening.


“Our supporters have been looking forward to this match for a long time. As we found out last season Franklin’s Gardens is a special place on big European occasions, and especially under lights. It should be a memorable occasion.


“But we haven’t changed our approach, and know that we will have to concentrate and work hard from the first whistle until the last if we are to get a positive result.”


The match marks Chris Ashton’s 50th appearance in the Saints first team.


Northampton Saints Team


15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Bruce Reihana, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Lee Dickson, 1 Soane Tonga’uiha, 2 Dylan Hartley (capt), 3 Santiago Bonorino, 4 Courtney Lawes, 5 Juandre Kruger, 6 Phil Dowson, 7 Neil Best, 8 Roger Wilson


Replacements 16 Brett Sharman, 17 Regardt Dreyer, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe , 20 Mark Easter , 21 Alan Dickens, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Chris Mayor

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