Munster won’t want for incentive in London this weekend. In Jean Kleyn’s permutations, beating Saracens at Allianz Park Saturday not only keeps Munster’s hopes alive of Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final qualification, but also offers the opportunity to extinguish the aspirations of the defending champions.
Munster boss Johann van Graan insists he is committed to improving his existing squad as the province bids to win silverware for the first time in eight years but that will be without South Africa centre Jaco Taute, who was unveiled today by Leicester Tigers as a new signing for next season.
It was a performance riddled with mistakes, so many of them elementary, but the side's reaction to adversity in the second-half, when coming from 13-0 down to claim the lead and hold out in the face of considerable pressure, was impressive.
Ulster go into their Pool 4, Heineken Cup battle against Racing 92 this evening without talisman scrum-half, John Cooney, who has a shoulder injury. Dave Shanahan steps in at the spectacular La Defense Arena, in the western suburbs of Paris. Kieran Treadwell is coming in at lock for Alan O’Connor, while tight-head, Marty Moore, gets his first competitive Ulster start, since his move from Wasps in the summer.
Johann van Graan’s bid to get his first full European campaign off to a winning start could not have come in more difficult circumstances, yet the Munster head coach has learned enough in his short time in charge to expect the unexpected on Heineken Champions Cup away days.