Penney wants Munster to revel as underdogs

Munster head coach Rob Penney takes his side to Parma for their final fixture of the season against Zebre this Friday night
MUNSTER head coach, Rob Penney has urged his side to thrive on their underdogs tags in Saturday’s mammoth Heineken Cup semi-final clash with Clermont Auvergne in Montpellier.

MUNSTER head coach, Rob Penney has urged his side to thrive on their underdogs tags in Saturday’s mammoth Heineken Cup semi-final clash with Clermont Auvergne in Montpellier.

Clermont are unbackable 1/10 favourites to see off Munster in this weekend’s semi-final showdown at the Stade de la Mosson, but New Zealander Penney is hoping his side will flourish against the Cup favourites.

While Penney admits Munster face a massive challenge against the French Top 14 high flyers, he insists his Red Army will stand up and fight for the full 80 minutes.

Penney said: “There’s no doubt Clermont are roaring hot favourites and we’re underdogs. You can either thrive under that tag or wilt away.

“The best teams should be in the Heineken Cup at this stage and Clermont are certainly in that bracket.They’ve got real depth.

“We were going through their substitutes and you would be just wrapped to have them. They have an All-Black 9, 10, 12 and 13 on the bench and Sitiveni (Sivivatu) starts on the wing.

“But we still have a lot of expectation from the Munster public and supporters, it’s a double-edged sword.

“I don’t want to say we believe we will beat them but we are going to go over there and give it a good crack.

“A game of rugby is such a dynamic one that on any given day an underdog can pull it off.

“It’s fifteen versus fifteen, we have a great referee in Nigel Owens and we just have to make sure we prepare well and perform.”

Munster warmed up for their European day of destiny with an agonising last-gasp 30-24 defeat to Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade on Friday night.

Penney, who rested the vast majority of his first team stars for the trip to Wales, insists it will not knock their confidence.

“We were disappointed with the result in the end,” Penney said.

“It was one of those games where we lost it in the first-half. We came back well but couldn’t quite complete.

“It won’t affect confidence at all. We have managed to get into a semi-final and now have to focus on a massive game against Clermont.”

Munster are 6/1 outsiders to win Saturday’s semi-final with the layers and can be backed with a 12-point start on the handicap.

Saturday’s semi-final will be refereed by Welsh official, Nigel Owens.

While the Munster senior side prepares for a trip to France, the province’s A team is getting set to face Leinster A in the semi-final of the British and Irish Cup at Garryowen FCs Dooradoyle grounds this Friday evening, 7pm.

Ian Costello’s Munster A side defeated Leinster A last season on route to winning the British and Irish Cup title.