Peter O’Mahony is acutely aware of the threat Gloucester pose to Munster’s European quarter-final qualification hopes and the Ireland back-row star is rolling up his sleeves for a tough battle up front at Kingsholm, not least with their Springbok forward Franco Mostert.
The 28-year-old lock made his full debut for the Cherry and Whites against Exeter Chiefs in Champions Cup round four last month following a protracted move from Super Rugby’s Lions. He made an instant impact, making 25 tackles against the Chiefs, 16 of them before half-time.
“Their brand of rugby is very impressive,” said O’Mahony of Friday’s opponents. “They are spreading the ball. Franco Mostert certainly has given them an edge in the tight-five. Their lineout quality is very impressive as well, along with strike plays.
“Discipline will be very important, not giving them that lineout access. Their lineout defence is very good as well, so we are going to have to be very accurate there. Their back three are incredibly dangerous, also. You see some of the tries they have scored over the last four or five weeks have been very impressive, so we are going to have to be on our toes. Going away from home is always an incredible challenge, particularly somewhere like Kingsholm. They have a proud and passionate following, they are going to be well fired up for us.”
Mostert is well known to Munster head coach Johann van Graan, way back to his days as a student in Pretoria through to van Graan’s time as a Springbok assistant coach.
“He’s a fantastic individual,” the Munster boss said. “I first came across him when he played for the University of Pretoria’s Varsity Cup team.
“I saw this man giving 100%, 100% of the time. Then, he went to the Lions and made his mark there.
“Our paths crossed again at the Springboks. He’s one of the hardest workers that I’ve ever coached; he doesn’t know how to stop or to give up.
“He is certainly not the biggest lock in the world, but he’s got a big heart and he is a guy who I think is a fantastic addition for Gloucester. He can become the heart and soul of that team.
“If you look at the way he carries, how he stops a maul, how he runs around the field. I can’t say enough about him.”
Van Graan agreed that the Gloucester import will be a serious threat on Friday.
“Not only at lineout time, he and GG (Gerbrandt Grobler) around the field. He’s a good carrier with his body height and his work-rate, defensively. I just watched him off the ball against Leicester at the weekend, he never stops and he’ll definitely be a big threat.”