Munster ready for a full frontal Brive assault, says McGahan

TONY McGAHAN promised the Munster supporters that his players won’t shirk from the challenge of taking on Brive up front on Saturday in the Amlin Challenge Cup.

In acknowledging the French side’s home form, he asked supporters to ignore their league position in the Top 14 and be wary of their ability to grind teams down with their supporters behind them.

“Closer observers, those who watch their rugby, will recognise that Brive’s performances at home this year have been outstanding,” he said.

“I don’t think you get to turn over Clermont, Stade Francais and others without having a good side and a good game that can beat those two quality outfits.

“We’re not going to be trying to counteract or go into defensive mode. It’s what we’re going to bring to the contest on our ball and their ball. There are technical variations that occur from week to week, but more importantly it’s about how we’re going to attack them and what they do to stop us (not the other way around).”

In a disturbing week for Munster rugby on the injury front, the good news is that Denis Hurley is fighting his way back into contention and has been included in the squad.

But it’s going to be a near impossible task to break into the team, with Keith Earls and Doug Howlett almost certainly already pencilled into Tony McGahan’s side on the flanks while Felix Jones and Paul Warwick are front-runners for the number 15 jersey.

“Yes, Denis is available for selection, he trained well last week but we will have to take a look at it,” he said.

“Keith and Doug have played very well in the last two weeks. We have very good depth there and it’s a difficult side to break into at this point.”

With Ian Dowling forced into retirement and skipper Paul O’Connell out, Hurley’s availability is a boost but McGahan knows it will be a big physical challenge this weekend.

“We’re away in France, they are a physical side and they play route-one rugby: they kick a lot, they’re set-piece dominated. We need to look at those factors.”

In the absence of O’Connell, McGahan is banking on a major contribution from Donncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll, Donnacha Ryan and Ian Nagle.

“It’s a cup competition, it’s got a European name and we are well focused on getting the result. It’s like anything in life: you’ve got your goal set on another level. Once that (Heineken Cup) was taken away from us, of our own doing, we had to refocus and that was on this competition.

“Nothing has changed. We want to be successful; it’s what motivates us, to be competitive and winning things.

“There isn’t a lot of time for dwelling and self-pity in professional sport, certainly not in rugby, and certainly not in Munster rugby.”

MUNSTER (v Brive) from: F Jones, D Hurley, D Howlett, J Murphy, S Tuitupou, L Mafi, K Earls, P Warwick, R O’Gara, C Murray, P Stringer, W du Preez, M Horan, S Archer, J Hayes, T Buckley, D Varley, M Sherry, D O’Callaghan, M O’Driscoll, D Ryan, N Ronan, D Wallace, J Coughlan, D Leamy.

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