MUNSTER’S marquee European Champions Cup tie with Saracens at Thomond Park on Friday night is set to be a sell-out with close on 22,000 tickets sold for the game some 72 hours before kick-off.
Munster’s dramatic late win over Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday has heightened interest in Friday night’s heavyweight round two contest with Sarries which has a 7.45pm kick-off time. The game will only be televised live on BT Sport 2.
Munster will be without hooker Damien Varley for Friday night’s game as he underwent surgery on a foot injury in London this Monday. It is unclear as yet as to when Varley will return to action.
While Munster head coach Anthony Foley reports some squad members to be carrying ‘bangs and knocks’ in the wake of the Sale game, he reports no fresh injury worries.
Saracens sit on top of Pool 1 of the competition following their bonus point win over Clermont Auvergne on Saturday.
Foley must ponder whether he should make changes to the starting XV for Friday night given the lethargic first half display and the fact that there is a short six-day turnaround between fixtures.
“We all knew there is a six-day turnaround and we need to manage the squad but you have to judge fellas on how they play as well and make sure you pick the team on merit and that’s what we try and do, try to give fellas an opportunity. I think that’s important to grow a squad and to grow a competitive squad to be competitive from within and then it can be competitive outwardly. I think we are doing that so we judge on Wednesday. We obviously have a squad named internally for the week and from that we will pick our 23 and we will tell you (media) on Thursday.”
Foley was impressed by the quality of rugby played in Sarries win over the French Top 14 side.
“Good contest, wasn’t it. It was hard fought and our Johnny Lacey (referee) was involved in a decision and in the space of a minute, two minutes, the game had changed by 14 points.
“I thought Clermont went over there and went after them. I thought they took their opportunities very well when they came across and they could have taken one or two more and they didn’t.
“Saracens took their opportunities and they got one or two and they didn’t look back. They didn’t say ‘are you sure?’ They took their chances and that’s what we expect.
“Sarries win a lot more than they lose. They’ve an excellent pack of forwards, De Kock, Wigglesworth, Hodgson, Farrell in their half-backs and a back three of Goode, Strettle and Ashton they can do damage. I’m not picking their team but they’re an international outfit and a very good club side. They tend to get to the knockout stages of most competitions and they were in the final last year so they have the bug for Europe, for trying to win trophies, so it should be a good contest.”