herald

Thursday 17 August 2017

Under-fire Toulouse to rock and shock Thomond

Munster’s Conor Murray.
Munster’s Conor Murray.

For the same reason Joe Schmidt gave Conor Murray the time to shake off a stinger against England, Rassie Erasmus allowed his scrum-half as much time as he could to make this Champions Cup quarter-final.

Murray is that important to Ireland, even more so for Munster due to his growing understanding with out-half Tyler Bleyendaal. The Director of Rugby has just one first choice Ireland front-five forward in Donnacha Ryan in his locker-room.

Toulouse have a global selection of superstars in this department alone with Frenchmen Cyril Baille and Yoann Maestri, Scotland's Richie Gray, Samoan Census Johnston and Italian Leonardo Ghiraldini.

Then, you have the six-two split in the replacements where the mean, menacing Joe Tekori leads a cavalry of muscle.

The position of Toulouse at 10th in the French Top-14 is a danger to Munster.

France centre Gael Fickou does not need any convincing about what they can do.

"Honestly, if we looked at what we've done the last two months, we'd tell ourselves there's no point going there," said Fickou. "But that's not rugby. Everything is possible and on our day we can do it.

"Maybe from the outside you don't believe, but we know we're capable of doing it," he told the sceptical press.

The illusion Munster's name is on the trophy is nothing more than that.

The importance of home advantage and the special atmosphere at Thomond Park will be worth points.

If Toulouse come to play, they have the personnel to make it a long evening.

Munster: S Zebo; D Sweetnam, J Taute, R Scannell, K Earls; T Bleyendaal, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, N Scannell, J Ryan, D Ryan, B Holland, P O'Mahony (capt), T O'Donnell, CJ Stander.

Toulouse: M Medard; Y Huget, G Fickou, F Fritz, P Perez; JM Doussain, S Bezy; C Baille, L Ghiraldini, C Johnston, R Gray, Y Maestri, T Dusautoir, Y Camara, F Cros.

Verdict: Toulouse

  • Munster v Toulouse, Today, ko5.45, live Sky Sports 2

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