'He's the kind of guy you want in your team on big occasions'

Donnacha Ryan is set to face Munster for the first time on Sunday in Paris.

A NECK INJURY denied Donnacha Ryan a playing return to Thomond Park back in October but, barring a shock non-selection, the Tipp man will face Munster in Racing 92 colours on Sunday in Paris.

The 34-year-old has fully recovered from that neck issue and is set to make his sixth appearance for Racing, with his first full 80 minutes for the club coming in last weekend’s 58-6 hammering of Clermont.

[image alt="Donnacha Ryan celebrates with Joe Rokocoko after the game" src="" width="616" height="500" class="aligncenter" /end]

It was a typically busy performance from the 47-times capped Ireland international in the eight-try win and Munster are expecting another full-blooded display from their former team-mate on Sunday.

“He’s the kind of guy you want in your team on big occasions,” said Munster captain Peter O’Mahony. “He’s physical, he’s hard, he’s a very bright and diligent rugby player who does a lot of homework. So, he’s everything you want in a second row.

“I think that class of a player is going to have an influence on whatever team you’re going to play with.

“You saw at the weekend, he was into everything, he was busy and making a nuisance of himself, his lineout defence was excellent

“We depended on him a lot here for carrying, but they probably have sufficient numbers to do that, so he can put the head down and work hard.

“He’d enjoy that, you’d expect a player of that quality to have an influence on whatever team he’s playing for.”

Think back to roughly this time last year, with Munster in Paris to face Racing at the old Stade Yves du Manoir.

Ryan was absolutely instrumental in the Irish province’s resounding 32-7 win, shredding the Racing maul repeatedly, melting rucks with aggression, helping Munster to a dominant lineout performance and exploding into his tackling duties.

[image alt="Donnacha Ryan" src="" width="630" height="409" class="alignnone" /end]

It was the kind of performance that makes a France club sit up and take notice, and eventually make a move. But as Munster know, Ryan brings so more than the on-the-pitch stuff.

O’Mahony has no doubt that Ryan will have an impact in the dressing room and on the training ground at Racing.

“I think anyone with 50-odd caps for Ireland, he’s going to have picked up a lot. As I said, he’s a very diligent rugby player; he’ll do a huge amount of homework and analysis.

“So guys have got to listen to what he has to say and when he brings that level of performance which he can do, and like he did at the weekend, he’s a complete package with regard to a second row definitely.”

Racing gave Munster a severe test at the lineout in Thomond Park in October, even without Ryan, and it’s set to be a key part of the contest again this weekend.

The Top 14 outfit are superb at getting jumpers in the air on defensive lineouts and the fact that Ryan is so familiar with Munster should add another element to that strength.

But O’Mahony smiles and shakes his head when he’s asked if Munster will have to mix up their calling system to ensure Ryan can’t make educated reads about where the ball is being thrown.

[image alt="Peter O’Mahony receives a commemorative plaque from former Munster player Donnacha Ryan" src="" width="442" height="500" class="aligncenter" /end]

“No, no! Donners knows what we do but we haven’t changed anything,” said O’Mahony.

“It’s still split-second stuff, so even if I was given a lineout call [for the opposition] it would be very hard to react as quick as someone who knows what they’re doing.

“You just have to be good at it.”

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