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Thursday 23 February 2017

O'Gara seeking to derail Munster as Erasmus ties down Taute extension

Darren Sweetnam
Darren Sweetnam

It is Ronan O'Gara's job to make sure Munster are taken down in the Champions Cup in Paris on Saturday.

Pool One leaders Glasgow Warriors will be the most interested bystanders.

Racing 92 are currently under-performing to sit eighth in the French Top 14 League.

Racing's assistant coach O'Gara has struggled to get the same response out of his players as last season when they reached the Champions Cup final.

It remains to be seen how Racing will approach the Munster game as they are already out of the competition.

"It's hugely disappointing to have zero points after three games," said the former Ireland out-half.

"Part of the problem is that the Top 14 is such a beast over there. But they need to realise just how good the Champions Cup is.

"We're trying to do that."

For sure, they would be more inclined to surrender without much of a fight were it scheduled for Thomond Park instead of Stade Manoir.

"You can make excuses about falling into the French psyche," said O'Gara. "But you have to rise above that and keep your own standards."

Certainly, Munster's standards have gone through the roof this season. They lead the PRO12 League with ten wins from 12 and have made a fine start in Europe to be two points off Glasgow with this game in hand.

Just as Munster sealed Jaco Taute's six-month contract extension, they were hit with the six-week loss of Darren Sweetnam to a knee injury.

Deal

The Springbok utility back Taute has been joined by former-Trinity College scrum-half Angus Lloyd, who also had his short-term deal widened.

"With Jaco already in the system, having him available as a full-back or centre will be invaluable as our backline options will need to adapt with international commitments and following recent injuries to Alex Wootton, Bill Johnston and Darren Sweetnam," issued Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus.

The merit of this argument is dubious, to say the least.

Ireland U20 Bill Johnston is an out-half and 22-year-old Alex Wootton an inexperienced wing. For example, Leinster are currently without Ireland wings Dave Kearney and Fergus McFadden and out-half Joey Carbery. They have blooded Academy centre Rory O'Loughlin and fly-half Ross Byrne.

There are further Munster worries about Tommy O'Donnell's ankle.

There is no definitive news available other than to reveal the Ireland flanker will need further investigation on the injury.

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