FORM IS VERY important and with Harlequins losing games recently – including defeat to a tough Saracens side – it does upset the mood and confidence.
Once confidence is lacking in any team it can have a major effect but I expect a few big name players to return to the ‘Quins side.
Munster won’t fear anyone but the big question is whether they have the game and players to pull off a difficult away win. The Glasgow defeat was not ideal but perhaps it will sharpen the mind.
It is not beyond the realms of possibility that they can do a job. It can not be overstated, then, about the importance of having Paul O’Connell back.
He is such a talisman for the rest of the team. His pure presence on the pitch has a massive effect.
There’s nothing more stimulating than to hear him breathing down your neck and screaming at you to get to the next ruck.
Simon Zebo is a player who is quite unique and who can do some amazing things. He’s a confidence player and he has the skills to back it up.
He’s not all about out-and-out pace and can give it a great belt with the left boot.
Peter Stringer’s fantastic experience of the European game will be missed. He’s a cult hero over at Bath, since his move, and rightly so.
To see him on the sidelines for so long was difficult and I’m glad he is proving his worth at Bath.
Saying that, Conor Murray has developed into a world-class No. 9. His scrumhalf capabilities are clearly evident and his defence is outstanding. He is one of the best defenders on the team.
Old foes: Wallace tackles Harlequins’ Chris Robshaw in 2011. (©INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan)
Donnacha Ryan soldiered through the Six Nations and was like a pin-cushion at the end with all the treatment he had on his shoulder.
His work-rate around the pitch is fantastic. It is like having an extra Number 8 on the pitch and he is always one of the guys going hard for the kick chases.
From what I can see, you’d like to see Munster playing a style that is more suited to them, with the forwards taking extra responsibility and direct running.
The style of play is a little bit one-sided and lateral at the moment.
I played Harlequins with Munster a couple of years back and felt they had good players but no real stars. Not much has changed since.
They beat us in Thomond Park and, for an English side, they played like we should have been playing. They wee dogged and got in our face.
Their captain, Chris Robshaw, is a destructive rather than constructive player. He is very good at slowing down the ball and can do real damage to you at the breakdown.
Mike Brown is potent enough and Ugo Monye, who I toured with as a Lion in 2009, is a threatening back that always does well in the try-scoring stakes.
It will be a close game but Munster are in with a shout if they can put a strong team on the pitch.