“In terms of morale and momentum, we’re in good shape”

Munster head coach Johann van Graan is confident that his side’s morale and momentum have not been negatively impacted by their recent heavy defeat by Toulouse in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup.

Unster will return to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday to fight back against Leinster while Van Graan’s men are looking for a win that would guarantee them the quarter-finals at home in the URC.

After the players were given a few extra days off to recover from their dramatic penalty shoot-out defeat by Toulouse, things are back to normal in Limerick while Munster ramp up preparations for the crucial clash with their old opponents this weekend.

“In terms of morale and momentum, we’re in good shape,” said Van Graan.

“We felt we played really well against Toulouse, it was an excellent rugby game and we had chances to win it in 80, win in the 100. We took some chances, but not others.

“We were knocked out by a kick. Morale and momentum are certainly on a very positive side for us as a club.

“As for the game at the weekend, it’s the last round of the league and it’s big for all the teams. What’s at stake for us is whether we can pick up enough points over the weekend and reach a home quarter-final at Thomond Park. That was something we set out to do at the start of the season. We would love to do that, but we have to go to Dublin and do it, which is not an easy task.”

Leinster are expected to rotate their squad in view of next week’s Champions Cup final but Van Graan doesn’t interpret that too much and instead focuses on his side.

“I can’t speak for them, all I can say is that they aren’t URC champions for nothing,” said Van Graan.

“It’s Munster vs Leinster at the Aviva so we’re expecting a massive game and it’s going to be a hard-fought encounter.

“You just have to look at the performances (in South Africa), they were over the try line in the game against the Sharks in Durban and they came close against the Stormers in Cape Town.

“Whatever team they pick, it’s going to be a tough game for us. We’re playing at the Aviva on Saturday.”

Van Graan will name his strongest team, although he will be without injured duo Damian de Allende and Simon Zebo.

“We just have to focus on this game,” added Van Graan.

“We have a week off next week so we’ll be showing our best available side. We have to play against the current champions after Dublin and in the URC.

“Obviously we want to play in the quarter-finals at Thomond Park so we have to go and make sure we perform and hopefully get the points to put us in that position.

“In terms of the other teams, if you don’t get the points, you might have to go to Belfast or Cape Town, Durban or Pretoria. They would much rather stay in Limerick so what a good weekend the URC can look forward to.”


Source: independent

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