Varley faces biggest career test against Toulon

Colm Kinsella

Reporter:

Colm Kinsella

Munster hooker Damien Varley is looking forward to the biggest game of his career in Sunday's Heineken Cup semi-final showdown with Toulon at the Stade Velodrome, Marseille, 3pm
HOOKER Damien Varley agrees Munster players must produce career best performances if Rob Penney’s men are to defeat Toulon in this weekend’s glamour Heineken Cup semi-final clash in Marseille.

HOOKER Damien Varley agrees Munster players must produce career best performances if Rob Penney’s men are to defeat Toulon in this weekend’s glamour Heineken Cup semi-final clash in Marseille.

Varley admitted Sunday’s clash at the Stade Velodrome (3.30pm Irish time) is the biggest game of his career to date.

Munster will be making an11th Heineken Cup semi-final appearance when the province locks hors with the big-spending French Top 14 leaders.

Varley said: “Going away to Marseille next week to play Toulon, it’s going to be the performance of everyone’s careers to date.

“It’s hard to put any measure on whether you are excited about the game. There is always an element of fear with us. In the Heineken Cup we have such high expectations. Going down here against Toulon, it is going to be a huge battle. It is one of my biggest memories from a few years ago (playing Toulon in France), being destroyed up front. We expect nothing more.

“They have grown from strength to strength over the past number of years and they are an extremely fast and physical side, so there is definitely a bit of fear and we are going to have our work cut out for us and a lot of work in the coming week in preparation for it.”

Munster warmed up for their trip to the south of France by recording an exciting 32-23 bonus point win over Connacht in the PRO12, a result which took Rob Penney’s side up to second place in the league table.

Varley said that if, as expected, he is selected to face Toulon, he will treat the semi-final showdown as the biggest game of his career.

Varley said: “If I’m lucky enough to get selected, that’s certainly the way I’m going to be looking at it. We all take knocks in our careers and unfortunately I was dropped for (last season’s Heineken Cup semi-final) – three weeks ago was the first quarter-final I started in my career, so yeah, I’m looking forward to what happens this week and hopefully selection and going down to the south of France and playing. So hopefully I’m picked and it goes well for us.”

Varley said he was confident Munster would learn from their 2013 Heineken Cup semi-final defeat to Clermont Auvergne in France

“We have to draw on that experience,” Varley agreed.

“This is probably a different kettle of fish playing Toulon, current holders and down there, the heat for us, it is going to be a big uphill battle for us. But again that is Cup rugby and it is about who turns up on the day. We have a lot of work to do for this week. We have high expectation s for it.”