Ronan O’Gara will be a very proud man when he leads out Munster at Stradey Park on Friday night. See below for his thoughts ahead of the province’s crunch Heineken Cup quarter-final with the Scarlets.
ON THE SCARLETS TEAM:
“They’ve got a big resemblance to us in that they’ve been knocking on the winners’ door in the Heineken Cup for years. We’ve won it now but they certainly have the capability to do the same. “We’ve been very impressed with their performances in it this season. Any team that goes to Toulouse and scores six tries, and wins against Ulster at Ravenhill, is a force to be reckoned with.
“Their offloading game is very difficult to defend against and they have the ability to get the ball wide very quickly.”
ON BEING STAND-IN CAPTAIN:
“It’s a huge honour and it’s great to be named officially as captain. But there will be other guys calling the shots as well – Donncha O’Callaghan in the lineout, Peter Stringer behind the pack.”
ON SIMON EASTERBY:
“We know what qualities Simon brings to the Ireland and Llanelli setups. We can’t speak highly enough of him really.”
ON STEPHEN JONES:
“The stick Stephen has had has been a little bit unfair. I regard him very highly as a player. Knowing him he will want to prove something on Friday night.”
ON STRADEY PARK:
“Stradey is very much like our own Thomond Park in Limerick. It’s a bit of a bear-pit and is going to be a very difficult place to get a win.”
ON THE MAJORITY OF MUNSTER’S INTERNATIONALS NOT PLAYING AGAINST ULSTER:
“It was the right decision not to play us against Ulster. From Rome to Ravenhill and then Stradey Park would have been just too intense.
“Essentially Monday was our first session and it’s not going to be easy for us by any stretch of the imagination. There were a few mistakes but you’d expect that to happen.
“But we’ve a tremendous will to win and once we can effect our game plan, then that’s all that matters.”
ON FRIDAY’S GAME:
“If we play on Saturday the way Munster played for the first half of the game against Ulster, we will get ripped apart.
“We’ve got to be good, we have to be clever and my main concern is that I want to lead Munster into a Heineken Cup semi-final so that Paulie (Paul O’Connell) can take over the captaincy. That’ll do me.”