MUNSTER will secure their place in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup with a maximum five-point haul against Castres on Saturday at Thomond Park, but coach Tony McGahan insists the term ‘bonus point’ is not in the squad’s vocabulary this week.
Unbeaten Munster can buck a trend this season by becoming the first side ever to remain unbeaten on route to lifting the Heineken Cup in May.
History shows that no club since the inception of home and away games in the pool stages of the competition in 1997-’98 has won Europe’s premier club rugby competition without losing a fixture.
Munster can secure their place in the knock-out stages with a round to spare by bagging four tries in a win over Castres this Saturday at Thomond Park. However, Aussie -born coach McGahan is adamant that the province is firmly focusing its attention on winning this weekend’s Round 5 tie.
Tony McGahan said: “I can tell you those two words - bonus point - are not used down here. I don’t think we are even in a position to think about bonus points.
“We haven’t not looked like getting them; we certainly have been there, but we’ll just grind away and find a way to get the job done.”
A bonus point triumph for Munster over the French Top 14 side would take the two-time Cup winners to 23 points, the maximum number of points the second-placed Scarlets can achieve over the final two rounds of the competition.
However, as Munster have beaten the Scarlets in both of their pool matches, the Irish province would therefore go ahead of the Welsh side on the head-to-head basis.
A straightforward win for Munster, against French visitors Castres and any form of defeat for the Scarlets this weekend, would also guarantee a 13th quarter-final for McGahan’s men.
Munster complete their programme of Heineken Cup pool games against the Northampton Saints at stadium:mk on Saturday, January 21 (6pm).
Although Castres’ hopes of making the quarter-finals may be all but gone. team captain, Paul O’Connell does not expect them to lie down without a fight.
“It’s not like we’re in a position where we’ve been completely dominating teams,” O’Connell said.
“We can’t afford to think that way at all. It hasn’t been mentioned and guys are very wary of it. There have been plenty of incidents down the years when you think you might have an easier game on paper. But that’s not the case within this camp.
“Obviously, Northampton away the following week is going to be tough as well. So we’re just going to keep fighting as hard as we can for everything we can get in this group.
“If we can get the win by any margin, I’ll be happy.”