MUNSTER head coach, Rob Penney insists that while today’s mammoth Heineken Cup semi-final clash with Toulon in Marseille poses a ‘massive’ challenge for his charges, it is ‘not an insurmountable one.
Speaking at the match venue, the Stade Velodrome, Penney agreed his side will have to be at their best to challenge the current Heineken Cup holders and French Top 14 leaders in the semi-final clash which kicks off at 3.30pm Irish time.
Today’s semi-final is Munster’s 11th in the Heineken Cup, with seven of them taking place in France. Up to 10,000 Munster fans have descended on Marseille for the highly anticipated clash.
Penney said: “It has been a fantastic week. The boys have done a great job of getting their heads around the enormity of the job at hand, but also their own personal and collective desires to do the best they can and put a great performance together for their supporters, the jersey and themselves.
“A lovely combination of expectation and an air of really embracing, enjoying the looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s a massive challenge, but it is not an insurmountable one. That is the beauty about it. If we play at our best, we are capable of challenging. We will have to be at our best. The guys know that and they are preparing to try and do that. They are up against a fantastic team and we will see. There are no guarantees. That is the beauty of sport. We will see what happens.”
Penney does not think the warm playing conditions with temperatures in the south of France reaching above 20 degrees at kick-off time will impact on his side.
Penney said: “Issues like the climate and so forth are only issues if you create them in your own mind. It’s the same for both sides. We couldn’t do anything special or unique to try to nullify the potential issues around it. We just got to get on with it.”
Penney was very impressed with the Stade Velodrome, which will only have three sides open to spectators for Sunday’s semi-final game due to on-going construction work at the venue.
“It is going to be a fantastic stadium when it is going to be completed,” Penney said.
“I couldn’t imagine what it is going to be like in 12 or 18 months when it is full. Our semi-final is going to be a special occasion. The way the roof will reverberate the noise, I think it will be a very special place to be. The ground looks a picture. The stadium itself is brilliant.”