Mafi set to play pressure game

Lifeimi Mafi: Focus has been on being aggressive in the contact.

Former Munster centre Lifeimi Mafi said there has been a big fallout in Perpignan from Sunday’s loss at Thomond Park and they were fired up for revenge.

Mafi missed the game through suspension and admitted it will be very difficult playing against Munster, having made 144 appearances during his six years there. But he will put friendships to one side at Stade Aime Giral this afternoon as Perpignan bid to keep their Heineken Cup hopes alive.

“It was disappointing to miss out having played there for six seasons, having played in the opening of Thomond Park, I have got a lot of memories there so to miss out was disappointing but I just concentrated on looking forward to this game,” he said.

“The boys are hurt about last Sunday. We felt we played well but at times we looked rubbish and gave away easy turnovers and it gave Munster opportunities to attack us.

“The focus this week has been on being aggressive in the contact and putting pressure on Munster. We need to put them under pressure and we need to do it early.

“We can’t let Munster get away from us like they did last week. Our heads dropped but at home we can’t do that, especially not in front of our fans, passionate people, and we need to win it to stay in the competition.

“Our goal here at USAP was to make the quarters of the Heineken Cup and we will do everything in our powers to do that,” said the 31-year old who is in his second season at Perpignan and recently signed a new deal which will keep him at Stade Aime Giral for at least one season with an option on another.

Mafi added that he still keeps in touch with a lot of people in Munster but pointed out there have been huge changes since he left.

“Munster is still a team which I follow, still a team that I am a big fan of. To have had six years there it is still part of my life. I still have a lot if friends in the team and a lot of friends in the Munster area. It will be different, that’s for sure, being on the other side but that’s all part of professional sport, part of our career.

“I can’t wait for the game, I am excited. I know how they play, the true ethos of Munster, and what they represent so it will be different. But we have a similar ethos here and that’s why I came to Perpignan. The atmosphere, the players, the area, it is very similar to Munster, very traditional, and it was the main reason for coming here.

“The supporters are very passionate. They love this team and what it represents around here so it is an honour to play for them.

“Our focus all week has been on winning the contact, being more aggressive. The French boys are always more aggressive at home than they are away.

“I don’t remember us ever losing two home games in-a-row. We want to win this one and take that to next week when we play Castres away in the Top 14.”

The inclusion of Mafi is one of seven changes for Perpignan with Welsh internationals James Hook and Luke Charteris being rested.

There is a new front row with the French capped Sebastien Vahaamahina coming into the second row and former England international Luke Narraway skippering the side.

Tommy Allan, who has played U20 for Scotland and who made his full senior debut for Italy in the November internationals, starts at out-half where he will partner the experienced Nicolas Durand.


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