The Munster backroom team, and players, have been highlighting the talents of Scarlets, prior to this evening’s Guinness PRO14 opposition at Thomond Park (5pm).
Yet each every member of the home squad are under no illusions about the importance of victory over the Welsh side this weekend.
First and foremost, the fans will demand nothing less than a minimum of four points from the fixture having undergone the trauma of elimination from the European Champions Cup while another series of less than impressive PRO14 performances mean the hosts are currently three points behind Conference B leaders Edinburgh (to whom they must travel later in the season) and the same number ahead of today’s opposition.
Head coach Johann van Graan has made five changes from the side that beat Zebre last week with Billy Holland restored as captain and Chris Farrell, Dan Goggin, Kevin O’ Byrne and Stephen Archer also earning a recall.
O’Byrne starts as hooker instead of Niall Scannell, who is recovering from a knock to the knee suffered against Zebre.
Winger Shane Daly is also set to make a quick recovery from the injury he picked up in the same game although on the debit side, Jack O’Donoghue, although released by Ireland, is ruled out because of neck trouble.
“Scarlets have always been one of the strongest Welsh sides”, said Munster defence coach JP Ferreira.
“They have big threats all round the pitch, have good ball carriers and have some poach threats which is massive. When we played them at Thomond Park two years ago with Tadhg (Beirne) being in their side.
“We did really well that day and that focus remains in place”.
Scarlets come to Thomond Park as easily the most successful of the four Welsh regions and much strengthened by the availability of outstanding back-row forward Aaron Shingler who has been released by Wales.
Centre Steff Hughes returns as captain in a side showing five changes from that which easily disposed of the Southern Kings last time out.
Scarlets backs coach Dai Flanagan recognises that defeat today would make their task of reaching the knock-out stages extremely difficult but is still travelling with a positive approach.
“We know what we need to do and it’s important we execute the plan we are putting in place”, he stresses.
“It is about us being us and I am sure we will give Munster a challenge.
“It is one of the toughest places to play but also one of the most inspiring. The crowd are excellent and you also have the history that comes with the ground. I am sure our boys will be up for it.
“It is Munster away and there is no reason not to be.”
MUNSTER: M Haley; C Nash, C Farrell, D Goggin, D Sweetnam; JJ Hanrahan, C Casey; J Cronin K O’Byrne, S Archer, F Wycherley, B Holland capt, A Botha, C Cloete, J O’Sullivan.
Replacements: D Barron, J Loughman, J Ryan, G Coombes, J Hodnett, N McCarthy, R Scannell, T O’Donnell.
SCARLETS: A O’Brien; C Baldwin, P Asquith, S Hughes capt, S Evans; D Jones, J Evans; P Price, T Davies, W Kruger, L Rawlins, S Lousi, A Shingler, J Macleod, U Casseim.
Replacements: I Phillips, Dylan Evans, J Sebastian, T Ratuva, S Cummins, D Davis, D Blacker, R Conbeer
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland).