Munster have named much the squad for this weekend’s Heineken Cup trip to Perpignan as was chosen in advance of last Friday’s one-point victory over the French side at Thomond Park.
The obvious exception is hooker Jerry Flannery who underwent exploratory surgery on an Achilles injury yesterday and is expected to be out of action until January.
There will be plenty of factors to contend with this Sunday in the South of France and head coach Tony McGahan and team captain Paul O’Connell are fully aware of the tough challenge they will face from Perpignan at the Stade Aime Giral (kick-off 4pm/3pm Irish time).
Commenting on the return leg, O’Connell said: “I think we are happy and disappointed with last week’s game, we played with a lot of intensity and created a lot of opportunities, but at times we’re not getting in to the right positions to take advantage of them.
“We just need a bit more accuracy to go along with the intensity we’re playing at.
“We just can’t concede three tries in a competition like this, and we certainly can’t let that happen again this weekend.”
With McGahan in agreement, the Munster boss looked at two areas in particular that need to be improved upon.
“We need to work on our execution of play and we need to work harder to realign ourselves in order to take our opportunities,” he said.
“We have to look to finish off our attack play, and we certainly could have taken a few more opportunities the last night.
“Three tries down left us chasing it at the end of the game and we have to look at the lack of reaction that led to those tries in the first place.”
O’Connell was not involved in Munster’s last outing at the Stade Aime Giral in 2003 but knows it will be ‘a tough place to play.’
“Perpignan have an incredible home record there and it’s one of the few places Munster have been badly beaten in the Heineken Cup in recent years,” he admitted.
“Their record at home speaks for itself, and it will be a lot to do with them playing for pride in front of their home crowd and getting their supporters behind them, just like us at Thomond Park.
“But you look forward to these games and the Heineken Cup, going to France playing such teams and playing in stadiums we don’t play in often.”
MUNSTER Squad (v Perpignan) – Backs (11): Felix Jones, Paul Warwick, Denis Hurley, Ian Dowling, Doug Howlett, Keith Earls, Jean de Villiers, Lifeimi Mafi, Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer, Tomas O’Leary.
Forwards (16): Julien Brugnaut, Wian du Preez, Darragh Hurley, Denis Fogarty, Damien Varley, John Hayes, Tony Buckley, Donncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell (capt), Alan Quinlan, Niall Ronan, David Wallace, Denis Leamy, Donnacha Ryan, Nick Williams.