MUNSTER’S RETURN TO Paris for this weekend’s rescheduled Champions Cup encounter with Racing 92 can only evoke memories of Anthony Foley’s sudden and tragic death in October.
Captain Peter O’Mahony admits that Foley will again be in the squad’s thoughts, but no more than has been the case every day since that fateful morning in Paris less than three months ago.
“We’re not going to think about Axel any more than we do every other week. The style of play we’re playing has him written all over it so we reference him in every meeting, more than once.
“I was asked was he going to be at the back of our minds for the week but he’s the forefront of our minds every week, so it’s not going to be any different that way,” added O’Mahony.
O’Mahony also stresses that there is a big price to be paid if the southern province underestimate a side prepared by his fellow Corkman O’Gara.
The Irish flanker reckons pride alone will ensure that Racing 92, despite losing all three pool games and currently lying eighth in their defence of their Top 14 crown, will come out with all guns blazing at Stade Yves-du-Manoir on Saturday.
“Rog is too big a competitor to let this one slip and he’ll be teeing them up for us so we are preparing for the best team we’ve played against this year.
“And the quality they have and the performance they are going to put in as I said he will be lining them up for us so we’re going to have to be good,’ he said.
O’Mahony adds that while it is a surprise that Racing are already out of contention, the competitiveness of a pool which also includes Leicester Tigers and Glasgow Warriors also ensured there would be a big casualty.
“It is a surprise but with the quality of the group that we’re in, there’s always going to be a big team to lose out.
I don’t think being out changes Racing’s mentality at home, we’re preparing for the best team they can put out and 100% they’re going to field a strong team. So we’re going to have to be excellent to get a win over there.
“It’s a hard enough place to go and play as it is without them having the crowd on their backs if they are in trouble. So we need a big week.”
Munster’s late loss away to Leicester Tigers means they can’t afford another slip-up, not least as they go to Glasgow the weekend after next, and O’Mahony has laid it on the line for his men.
“It’s now cup rugby so we’ve got to go over and put in a big performance and whether that’s good enough or not, we’ll have to wait and see. But that’s something that we’ll have to prepare to do.
“We need to put in a good performance because you go anywhere in France and it’s tough to go and play, especially playing against a team with the quality that Racing have — the quality of player that they have, how proud they are of their history, playing at home especially, they’re very proud and they’re going to look to put in a big performance against us.”
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