Munster represent the home challenge and under coach Colm McMahon are confident of at least reaching tomorrow’s knockout stages.
Established players Gerhard Van den Heever, skipper Ronan O’Mahony, Luke O’Dea along with exciting young talents like Cian Bohane, Rory Scannell, Stephen Fitzgerald, Ryan Murphy and Darren Sweetnam have McMahon in optimistic mood heading into the weekend
Munster are in Pool C, along with title favourites Daveta from Fiji, but should still qualify for the next round at the expense of teams from San Francisco and Moscow.
Given this is the week in which Ireland lowered the colours of the previously unbeatable New Zealanders in the Women’s World Cup, anything is clearly possible but it would be a shock of similar proportions if Munster were to finish ahead of Daveta while Australia’s Waratahs, last week’s winners of the Super 15; New Zealand’s Auckland; South Africa’s Blue Bulls and Saracens from England are also warmly fancied.
Fans should also keep an eye out for Carlin Isles of New York 7s who has gained a reputation as “the fastest man in rugby.”
McMahon said: “We’re under no illusions but we’ll be learning as the tournament goes on and we don’t intend to make it easy for any team we come up against.”
As tomorrow’ closing stages clash with the All-Ireland SHC semi-final between Limerick and Kilkenny, the hurling will be shown on the big screen in the Fanzone area of Thomond Park.
Pool A: Auckland Rugby, Vodacom Blue Bulls, New York 7s, Saracens; Pool B: New South Wales Waratahs, Western Province (South Africa), Vancouver (Canada), Stade Francais; Pool C: Daveta (Fiji), San Franisco, Moscow, Munster.
Today: Matches from 11.30am to 6.45pm. Tomorrow: Matches from 11.30am to 5.30pm.
MUNSTER SQUAD: R O’Mahony capt, G Van den Heever, L O’Dea, C Bohane, T Quinlan, S Fitzgerald, J Glynn, R Scannell, D Sweetnam, S Buckley, R Murphy, N Hodson.