Munster head coach Johann van Graan
EXETER head coach Rob Baxter admitted this week that his Chiefs side would need to match Munster's 'emotional energy' if they are to compete in this Saturday's Champions Cup clash with Munster (5.30pm).
"I think it comes from deep within. It was most evident to me when I came here the first time. You just have to drive around town, see boys in the street playing rugby not football, when I see the red flags when you walk into Thomond Park, and I had said this so many times before, I don’t know what it is but you walk through it and all you see, bright red in front of your face, and you drive in the bus and you see people and what this team means to the people and it is in the history, and I am Irish now," he said.
"It comes from within and once you follow this club it is like you have always been here. As Earlsy (Keith Earls) said to me in the early days ‘Once you have been here you will never want to leave’.
"I think it comes from deep within, once you are part of rugby (here) you are part of Munster. Games like this is why we play this game. You might win or you might lose but I can guarantee one thing if you pull on the jersey it is for the people of Munster it is the most important thing and that is why you have to improve your game because you can’t always go up on emotion. That’s why I say I would like to think we have improved our game so we are going to use the emotion but we also have to play well to beat a quality team like Exeter."
That's the pre-match team talk right there should he need it.
With Peter O'Mahony rated as 50/50 for this weekend's tie, van Graan was asked about his options to replace his captain and the man who would be most associated with Munster's 'emotional energy'
"I know we thrive on the big occasion and big games. We love to play at Thomond Park and we've got a quality squad. Pete's been involved in most of the big games for the last two years. He wasn't involved, starting against Leinster - he was involved as a water carrier. If it comes to that over the weekend, we're a team who believes in the squad.
"I've said from day one, in all competitions you're going to gain some guys and you'll lose some guys. If he doesn't play it will be a loss for the team, but I thought CJ did really well as captain against Leinster and I thought Fineen Wycherly had an excellent day.
"We have a lot of options, we have Tadhg Beirne who can play on the flank, Tommy O'Donnell might shift over, Chris Cloete and the likes of CJ and Arno who have played Test rugby in that position before: We have a lot of options. The most important thing is to find out how Pete is first and then look at our options and we'll make a call on Thursday," van Graan added.
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