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Munster Set Thomond Targets

Munster Set Thomond Targets

“Yes, I can see this game as an opportunity to get the bonus point. We are at home. We know what we have to do and in the first 30 or so minutes we hope to lay down our marker.” The words of Munster coach Tony McGahan ahead of tonight’s Heineken Cup clash with Montauban.

Munster will set out their stall for another European campaign tonight as French newcomers Montauban, the 55th club to take part in the tournament, enter the cauldron of Thomond Park Stadium.

Unusually, Tony McGahan has admitted that the four-try bonus point will be a key aim for the match.

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Munster captain Paul O’Connell was a little less ambitious in his pre-match pronouncements, but agreed that in their current form – after five straight Magners League wins – the tries seem to be coming a little easier.

“We used to have to work so hard for our tries. There was a lot of phases, a lot of pressure on teams, between penalties and other things. We had to put teams under a lot of pressure,” he said.

“Lately we’re getting tries where maybe we haven’t to work as hard. You look at the try we scored (against Glasgow) last weekend off first phase.

“A lovely ‘overs’ line from Rua (Tipoki) to Keith (Earls) and Keith putting Dougie (Howlett) into the corner.

“To win a lineout and drop it down to the scrum half and jog back to the halfway line and have seven points in the bag, is a great.

“It’s something we’ve had sporadically with Munster but not as often as we’re getting it now.”

One aspect of Munster’s play in the early season that has been below par is their lineout and the province will look for improvements in that area against Montauban.

McGahan conceded: “Our lineout’s been something we’ve been looking at and trying every week to improve.

“Our stats wouldn’t suggest that it’s been as strong as it has been in the past.

“It’s certainly one we’re trying to go forward with and I know Laurie (Fisher) has been working very hard with the forwards to go forward with it. We’re not too far away.

“(It needs) a little bit of timing and a little bit of execution. Once it comes, it will be a gain and another great string to our bow.”

Flanker Alan Quinlan, who is in his 11th season of Heineken Cup rugby, emphasised how Munster would take on the French visitors in a business-like fashion, giving them respect but taking the game to them from the off. 

“We’ve studied videos of Montauban and they’re a side that we need to respect a lot. And we will give them that respect. But we need to go out and play this game on our terms, to our game plan,” Quinlan said.

“We have to be confident in ourselves, comfortable in the role each of us has to play.

“I’m happy we’ve put in the work. It’s all about putting yourself in the right position to deliver the performance that is required to get over the finishing line in front. Hopefully that’s what we can do (tonight).”