Van Graan: Munster are under no illusions at size of Leinster task

Johann van Graan says Munster are under no illusions about what it will take to beat Leinster in Dublin on Saturday but insisted his side are in a good place going into the game
Van Graan: Munster are under no illusions at size of Leinster task

Munster Rugby Squad Training, 10 Acres, UL, Limerick 17/5/2022. Head Coach Johann Van Graan. ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Johann van Graan says Munster are under no illusions about what it will take to beat Leinster in Dublin on Saturday but insisted his side are in a good place going into the final round of the United Rugby Championship regular season.

The reigning four-in-a-row champions, who have already opened an unassailable lead at the top of the URC table heading into next month’s play-offs, have not lost to their rivals in the league since December 2018. 

European victories over Leicester Tigers and Toulouse in successive weeks to reach the Heineken Champions Cup final have shown they are in impressive form.

Yet while Munster are in no danger of underestimating their opponents at Aviva Stadium this weekend as they bid for a home quarter-final draw, their head coach maintains they are on a roll themselves despite the agony of their Champions Cup quarter-final exit to Toulouse on penalties 10 days ago.

“In terms of morale and momentum we're in a good place,” van Graan said on Tuesday. “We felt we played really well against Toulouse, it was an excellent game of rugby and we had opportunities to win it in 80, to win it in the 100.

“Some opportunities we used, and some we didn't. We got knocked out by virtue of a kick. Morale and momentum is certainly on a very positive side in terms of us as a club.” 

Currently holding second place behind Leinster in the URC table, a Munster defeat this weekend will let in not just the Sharks and Stormers, level on points with them in third and fourth place respectively, but also potentially Ulster in fifth and the Bulls a place further behind.

Just three points separate places two to six with one game remaining.

“In terms of the game at the weekend,” van Graan said, “it's the last round of the league, and it's big for all teams. What's at stake for us is if we can get enough points out of the weekend and get a home quarter-final at Thomond Park, it's something we targeted at the start of the season. It's something we'd like to do, but we have to go to Dublin and do it which is no easy task.

"What we're looking for is a performance on Saturday to be good enough to get a win to guarantee us a home quarter-final, that's the way we look at it from this weekend's point of view.

"We're playing against the club that have just qualified for the final of Europe and they are already guaranteed a home quarter-final and potential home semi-final and final. We're under no illusions as to what we need to do on Saturday evening - that's go and put in a performance."

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