Alex Goode has told Munster that Saracens are ready to ‘fight fire with fire’ and that the English side will come out on top if the province attempt to dominate them physically in tomorrow’s huge European Rugby Champions Cup game in London.
The loser of the Pool One clash will almost certainly exit the competition before the knockout phase with Saracens trailing leaders Clermont Auvergne by a point and Munster a further three points adrift.
That would be a huge blow to either side, with Munster reaching the knockout stages in 15 of the last 16 years and Saracens losing finalists last season.
And while Goode admits Munster’s “intensity in European games” allows them to hit new heights he says his side will win if it’s a toe-to-toe battle at Allianz Park.
“We will make sure we fight fire with fire and be physically ready to match Munster and take them beyond that,” said the full-back.
“There has to be an intensity in everything we do, from kick-chase to defence and attack.
“They bring this intensity and lift themselves for these European occasions but we pride ourselves on doing that week in, week out.
“It will be interesting to have two clubs that aren’t too dissimilar in a way going head-to-head, but we have a lot of respect for Munster for what they have done over the years.
“To be in the mix year in, year out, is unbelievably impressive and they have reached consistency levels no-one else has matched.
“You take your hat off to them for that.
“But at the same time we know that we can go toe-to-toe with them and get a win as we are a top side too.
“It’s knockout rugby. If we don’t win, we know we pretty much won’t be going through. It’s not been said (openly) but it would be very difficult to progress.
“You would say that having three of last season’s semi-finalists in the same pool is not ideal, but you have to beat the best to win this competition.
“I look at it and if we win our group and get out of it, we have knocked two big rivals out who won’t be in the knockout stages. We will be a lot stronger for it.”
Goode has also rounded on Saracens’ critics while admitting they have not quite hit the heights of last season. This week Ian McGeechan claimed there was a hangover from losing both the Heineken Cup and Aviva Premiership finals on successive Saturdays in May, but Goode says that is far from the reality.
“We have had some results that maybe wouldn’t have happened last year but people expected us to win every game by a mammoth amount as we only lost twice last season,” he said. “The reality is we are playing well, just not at the level perhaps we were in some of the games.
“We were missing a lot of our players but now we have them back and are playing well. We are on an upwards curve. We are in the mix in a European group as tough as they come and are going well in the Premiership. This game will be as close as you can get in intensity to international rugby, and that’s what you want and why you want to be involved.”
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