Munster look to tame Tigers at Thomond

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent


Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

Munster look to tame Tigers at Thomond

MUNSTER Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus insists last year’s two Champions Cup pool defeats to Leicester will not be used as a motivating factor by his side in this Saturday’s mammoth clash between the sides at Thomond Park, 3.15pm.

Leicester scored a home-and-away double over Munster at the same stage of the competition 12 months ago to all but end the province’s hopes of advancing to the knock-out stages.

Erasmus said those results were more of a motivating factor for the English Premiership side than his own charges.

Erasmus said: “More (of a motivating factor) for them because they have done it last year. For us, if we are going to compare everything to last year, we are going to be in trouble.

“Of course, we would have lost against Scarlets and Glasgow in those recent tight games because those were the games that didn’t go our way last year.

“Also, we had some bad luck in a lot of senses. No, we will try to focus on this year and I am sure they will get a lot out of last year.”

Erasmus hopes that home advantage at Thomond Park, which is expected to be sold out for the game with more than 24,000 tickets sold on Friday, proves crucial.

“When I got here, I’d seen it (Thomond Park) on TV, but it was difficult for me to realise that with a 70m by 100m pitch being the same as everywhere else that it should have that much of a difference. But it does make a difference here.

“The people are almost part of the team on the field which is fantastic. And hopefully on Saturday again we can have a performance like that when we can get them involved because they appreciate everything from a good tackle to a good scrum to good skill.

“If we put a good enough effort in we can get the crowd behind us. But we also have to be realistic. This is not all of a sudden a new team, we have two new players compared to last year.

“And there are only two new signings, one a short-term loan. We must know they beat us home and away last season so it will be a massive challenge for us. They will believe they can do it.”

Leicester Tigers Director of Rugby, Richard Cockerill said: "There is still a lot of emotion around Munster Rugby at the moment because of the tragic passing of Anthony Foley and that has galvanised them and re-ignited the old Munster. We expect a huge battle between two great sides who will really be going at it.”

The game will be televised live on BT Sport.

MUNSTER: Simon Zebo; Darren Sweetnam, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland, Peter O'Mahony (capt), Tommy O'Donnell, CJ Stander. Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Thomas du Toit, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Jack O'Donoghue, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, Andrew Conway.

LEICESTER TIGERS: George Worth; Adam Thompstone, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Williams, Peter Betham; Freddie Burns, Ben Youngs; Logovi'i Mulipola, Tom Youngs (capt), Greg Bateman, Ed Slater, Graham Kitchener, Mike Fitzgerald, Brendon O'Connor, Lachlan McCaffrey. Replacements: George McGuigan, Ellis Genge, Pat Cilliers, Luke Hamilton, Will Evans, Sam Harrison, Jack Roberts, Tom Brady.

REFEREE: Romain Poite (France)