Munster chase 17th Champions Cup quarter-final place in Paris

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

Reporter:

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

Email:

ckinsella@limerickleader.ie

Munster chase 17th Champions Cup quarter-final place in Paris

Munster head coach Johann van Graan has brought his charges to Paris for Sunday's Champions Cup clash with Racing 92, 3.15pm

POOL 4 leaders Munster will qualify for the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup for a record 17th time if they can beat Racing 92 in their round five fixture at the magnificent new U Arena in Paris this Sunday, 3.15pm (Live on Sky Sports)

Munster currently enjoy a four-point lead over second-placed Racing with two rounds of pool fixtures to go.

Following Sunday's fixture in Paris, Munster will meet another French Top 14 side, Castres Olympique, in their final pool fixture at Thomond Park on Sunday, January 21, at 1pm.

Sunday’s game will be the sixth meeting between the clubs in Europe. While Racing won their first encounter in the 2012/2013 season, Munster have won all four of their most recent meetings.

While Munster were seeing off Connacht at Thomond Park last weekend in the Pro14, Racing were putting an understrength Clermont Auvergne side to the sword, 58-6, in the Top 14.

Munster head coach Johann van Graan said: ‘They’ve (Racing 92) got threats all over the park, so if you give them broken field they will punish you.

”There are teams that have kept it fairly tight and there are some weaknesses within quality individuals, so I think the biggest message from our side is that we’ve got to focus on our game. We’ve got to keep it tight and once opportunities present themselves, it’s very important that we use them.

“I’ve got no doubt about how good they actually are; they are quality. To get a positive result in Paris we will have to be at our very best.”

Meanwhile Van Graan admitted that the departure of the province’s Head of Athletic Performance, Aled Walters, in March, to take up a post in South Africa was a blow.

“A big loss to Munster, but we'll adapt. Luckily this team is very good at adapting and accepting change. Change is one of the only constants in life.”

MUNSTER: Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (Capt), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander. Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, James Cronin, John Ryan, Darren O’Shea, Jack O’Donoghue, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Alex Wootton.

RACING 92: Louis Dupichot; Teddy Thomas, Virimi Vakatawa, Henry Chavancy, Marc Andreu; Rémi Tales, Maxime Machenaud; Eddy Ben Arous, Camille Chat, Ben Tameifuna; Donnacha Ryan, Edwin Maka; Yannick Nyanga, Wenceslas Lauret, Leone Nakarawa. Replacements: Dimitri Szarzewski, Vasil Kakovin, Cedate Gomes Sa, Baptiste Chouzenoux, Boris Palu, Xavier Chauveau, Benjamin Dambielle,  Joe Rokocoko.