Wallace: it’s time to even up the score

HE HAS been a constant in Munster’s rollercoaster love affair with the Heineken Cup but now David Wallace wants to ‘balance the books’ when they compete in their fourth final at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

The showdown with Toulouse follows defeats for Munster against Northampton Saints in 2000 and Leicester Tigers in 2002, before they made it third time lucky in 2006 with a 23-19 victory over Biarritz. Two years on and Munster return to the Welsh capital with Wallace insisting Munster are the underdogs against the treble champions — although the Irish province’s travelling army of supporters are sure to vastly outnumber the French club’s fans.

“I am sure most people would agree that we are going in as the underdogs and, if our support is anything like we had at our last final two years ago, we can do with that help,” said Wallace, the first forward to score a Heineken Cup final try when he crossed for the only try of the match in the 9-8 defeat by Northampton eight years ago.

“That first final defeat was very disappointing, because not only was it so close, but we also felt we had not performed as well as we knew we could and should have played.

“In our second final we were beaten by a better team on the day when Leicester Tigers won 15-9 in Cardiff and we went into the third final knowing that three Heineken Cup final losses would be simply too much to bear.

“We have the opportunity to even up the balance sheet and it’d be great if we can make it two from four.”

With Declan Kidney heading for the top coaching job in Ireland after the final, Wallace and his team-mates can give him the perfect parting present.

“Last time Declan left us back in 2002 it was on a losing note, so it would be brilliant for him to go with a win this time,” said Wallace. “He has led us to all the finals and it would be great to give him another trophy.

“However Toulouse are a great side and a huge challenge for any team — they epitomise all the best things of French rugby. Regardless of who plays, they have a potent back three and a great pack of forwards. They are strong across the park but their back row, along with lock and captain Fabien Pelous, are at the heart of their side.

“However, their main strength is their fantastic squad depth which is mind-boggling. They regularly have several guys on their bench who would walk into most other teams in Europe.”

But Wallace is satisfied with the strength of the present Munster squad and their level of preparations ahead of Saturday’s massive tie.

“We used to struggle a bit in the panel department at Munster but now we also have solid strength in depth and, thankfully, very few injury worries at the moment.

“Our preparations have not been too bad, we have had a few weeks off to prepare and help us get through a lot of stuff we needed to work on.

“And not having a game last weekend is not a worry — at this stage of season we have a lot of matches under the belt and it is good to freshen up and work on a few things ahead of the biggest match of the season.”


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