12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
Heineken Cup champions Munster are well into their preparations for Sunday's Heineken Cup opener against Leicester. See below for pre-match quotes from Declan Kidney, Peter Stringer and Paul O'Connell.
DECLAN KIDNEY (On Munster's Magners League form): "We've had to go through different blocks of the seasons. We had a lot of younger guys playing at the start of the season - we got a lot of positives out of that, but unfortunately we finished that part of the season with a disappointing result against Glasgow.
"Then we went into another part, where we were together as a fully professional squad, as against having Academy and Dvelopment guys who, by the way, I couldn't speak more highly of. We had a game against Ulster, a six-day turnaround against Leinster and then had to dig deep against Edinburgh.
"We didn't do too well in those last two matches, but we turned over possession actually trying things, and I would be far more worried if we had lost those games being static and not trying things.
"There is no doubt in my mind that all we need is to get a bit of cohesion, and that will come with these guys. It's not easy when a team comes together such a short time before games. There is no doubt that the last few weeks, and the kick they need from the last couple of results, will help."
...O'Connell and Stringer...
PETER STRINGER (On trying for title number two): "Losing two finals was heartbreaking but last season made everything worthwhile. I try not to look at the video of the game because I'd get worked up too much. You want to pick up a rugby ball and score a try in the yard or throw somebody the ball and tackle them.
"I've been playing the game since I was seven years old and to slacken off at any stage would make it hard to live with yourself. You just want more and more. The hunger doesn't go away because you've done it once. You want to get out there and do it again and again."
...Stringer who has scored five tries in the last four seasons of the Heineken Cup, including one 'very special 'one last May...
PETER STRINGER (On facing Leicester): "We're fully aware that we haven't been playing all that well. We've done all the analysis throughout the week, trying to figure out where we've been going wrong and where we can improve.
"Welford Road is basically one of the toughest places you can go. We have good experience of going there a few years ago and coming out with a (20-7) victory but we also realise how tough and physical it was and so we're under no illusions that it's going to be hard.
"Leicester might not have been playing great but one of their strengths is that they can grind out victories whether through their backs or forwards. They seem to get these results when things are going against them.
"We've got to raise our game to beat them. You think of Leicester and the power of their forwards but in actual fact when we played them over there (in 2003), it turned out to be more of an open game than a physical game up front between the two packs."
...Kidney who has confirmed former All Black centre Lifeimi Mafi as Munster's 'additional player' for the 2006/07 Heineken Cup tournament, with Cork Con's Tom Gleeson being de-registered...
DECLAN KIDNEY (On losing to Leicester in a pre-season friendly): "There are no excuses for being beaten - they were the best players available to us at the time. We found a number of players from that game and that should stand us in good stead in the future.
"Half of our role as a province is to try and bring players through. A number of young guys got a go there that night and in other games. It's of no relevance to this game, other than the fact that we might have given a couple of young guys the confidence to go out and take on the likes of Leicester."
...O'Connell who was the Heineken Cup's top lineout taker last season. He claimed 44 lineout balls...
PAUL O'CONNELL (On Munster's motivation): "Leicester are motivated year in, year out, but by history but by their ambition. They're a very ambitious side.
"Teams like Leicester, Toulouse and Wasps - they set their own standards all the time, not by revenge matches or anything like that. I think that's an important part of their psyche and why they're so successful.
"Definitely for us, the motivation has to come from somewhere else this year. Obviously for the last few years we've been driven and focused, maybe by bad memories and an ambition to do something for ourselves and our supporters.
"Now that we've won the European Cup the drive has to come from somewhere else and it will be interesting to see how we react to that."
**All photos by Neil Danton of Inpho Photography**