Munster putting loss behind them

Munster will be looking to put their heartbreaking loss to London Wasps over the weekend behind them and pick themselves up for another tough Heineken Cup fixture against Clermont at Thomond Park on Sunday.

The Irish club have been here before and know just what it takes to get over a losing start and go all the way to claim the main prize.

Two years ago they lost 27-13 at Sale Sharks in Round One and promptly reeled off eight wins on the trot to be crowned kings of Europe.

Fast forward to 2007 and a one-point Round One defeat at the hands of reigning champions in front of the biggest crowd of the weekend – 21,506 at the Ricoh Arena – and Munster will be hoping history can repeat itself, starting with the home tie against their French rivals.

Munster coach Declan Kidney, who plotted Munster’s finest hour two years ago, accepts that the pressure is only going to get more intense.

“It was very disappointing to leave Coventry with only one point when there had been the real possibility of us taking four points,” said Kidney.

“Of course we will work on certain things and try and bring that into what is now a cup final situation for us from now on.

“However, even before the first lot of games I said that whichever two teams got the wins on the first weekend would have the pressure taken off them and that there would be more pressure on the teams who lost – and we are one of them.

“On this occasion we fell one point short and we have to accept that we were one of the teams who lost on the opening weekend.

“But it was never in doubt that we would be competitive against the Wasps and, as long as we keep our honesty and integrity, then we will be there or thereabouts at the finish of the Pool stages.”

Now Munster know they must make home advantage count against Clermont at a Thomond Park that is being upgraded – and that they are highly likely to have to do it without captain and the hugely influential Paul O’Connell.

“We will give him every chance but, as he has been unable to take part in training yet, it is highly unlikely Paul will be ready this weekend,” said Kidney.

“It is going to be difficult against Clermont but great to be playing at Thomond Park.

“The fact that that we will be able to get so many people into the ground is great credit to the builders and they will clear the ground for us for the day.

“Hopefully we will give the crowd something to shout about because our support in Coventry was tremendous and you can never underestimate how much of a lift that gives to the team.”

And Munster’s international hooker Jerry Flannery believes any World Cup hangover is well and truly buried and that Munster will only get better.

“We have to look at the positives – and there were some aspects of our play that we did well and we can build on those while we are also coming back more into doing what Munster do well.

“This was our first game of that intensity together this season and we know Clermont will be another big challenge.”

A mouthwatering head-to-head battle between Flannery and Clermont hooker John Smit awaits us if the World Cup-winning skipper gets the nod to start his first Heineken Cup match.

“They have spent an awful lot of money and have some great and dangerous players – you could say they are a little bit of a dark horse – and we need a big performance against them.”


365 Digital

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