Heineken Cup champions Munster will have pivotal out-half Ronan O'Gara in their arsenal for Sunday's trip to Leicester after he took a full part in training on Monday.
Having picked up a shoulder injury, O'Gara lasted only nine minutes of last Friday's Magners League defeat to Edinburgh before being replaced, but a Munster spokesman has confirmed that both O'Gara and new captain Paul O'Connell, who injured his hip and missed Friday's game, will be fit for the weekend's Welford Road clash.
O'Connell sat out yesterday's team training session at Thomond Park, while O'Gara played a full part in proceedings. And the tournament's all-time top scorer - O'Gara has tallied up 764 points to date - cannot wait for Munster to begin their title defence.
The Corkman said: "We worked bloody hard to win this tournament and we don't want to be the nearly men when people talk about great sides in the Heineken Cup.
"There is absolutely no way we are going to take our foot off the pedal now that we have finally won the title. We want to go on from here - you can only be called a great side when you win this tournament on more than one occasion. We respect how difficult it is to win the Heineken Cup, you need a bit of luck and the real key is to stay injury free.
"But we have a great bunch of lads at Munster and some very fine players. Paul O'Connell has taken over as captain and Paulie will bring a great attitude to the job because he is a great performer who sets very high standards."
...O'Gara in flying form at Welford Road in 2003...
Going to a Guinness Premiership ground looking for a galvanising win after four defeats in the Magners League will be a difficult task, especially as Munster have previously lost on five of their nine trips to English clubs in the Heineken Cup.
Defeats away to Sale, last season, and Gloucester in the 2002/03 season did little to diminish Munster's chances - they lifted the trophy last season and reached the semi-finals in 2003 - but O'Gara is only concerned about this season and Sunday's mouth-watering return to Welford Road.
"Playing Leicester is going to be hugely difficult - it will be a massive challenge. They have been the driving force for the last 10 years in England and European rugby circles," added O'Gara, who scored 15 points (a try, two conversions and two penalties) when the sides last met in Leicester in the 2003 quarter-final. The visitors triumped 20-7 back then.
"Welford Road is a very tight ground with a small pitch. But the atmosphere is electric and these are the sort of games everyone looks forward to."