MUNSTER look to claim a first Guinness PRO12 title since 2011 when Anthony Foley’s charges lock horns with Glasgow in a mammoth final showdown at Kingspan Stadium this Saturday, 6.30pm.
Munster will be looking to extend their winning run in the finals of all competitions this weekend to six.
Saturday evening’s game at the 18,000 capacity Kingspan Stadium will be the final outing for talismanic second row Paul O’Connell in the red of Munster. Back-row forward Paddy Butler and centre Andrew Smith are also set to play their final game with the province this weekend.
Foley insists the fact some players will be departing the province after Saturday’s final will not be mentioned in advance of the final.
Foley said: “There’s a lot of players that won’t play for Munster again. There’s a few there who will be togging out. There’s a few who won’t but Paul (O’Connell) has done above and beyond for the province, for Young Munster and for Ireland.
“It wasn’t spoken about last week, it hasn’t been mentioned this week. I think everyone’s intelligent enough to understand the situation, to go about doing their job.
“If we all do our jobs to the best of our ability, we’ll get the outcome we deserve. If we start thinking about different things and getting distracted by it, getting emotional, then that’s a negative, we want to stay on top of it and be positive around it, go and give it our best performance and see where that takes us.”
Asked what he believed winning a fourth PRO12 final this weekend would mean for Munster, Foley said: I think it would be a reward, a good reward for the chief executive and professional games board for backing a young coaching group. Many would not have backed us to be in this situation.
“We’ve brought through a few players that would have had question marks around them. You look at Stephen Archer’s performance at the weekend - it’s great to see a lad that would have had a lot of question marks around where he’s going. Denis Hurley at number twelve, what are we doing there?
“These guys are stepping up and are actual physical leaders on the pitch, they’re loving it. Everybody buys into it and if we can deliver a trophy at the end of the season, then that will give us a good boost.”
Saturday’s final will be refereed by Welsh official Nigel Owens who took charge of Munster’s semi-final win over the Ospreys.
Bookmakers have installed Munster as short-priced 8/13 favourites to win Saturday’s final in Belfast, with Glasgow on offer at 11/8.
The PRO12 final will be televised live on both Sky Sports and TG4.