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Downey: Munster need to focus on own game, not Saracens

The inside centre has more experience than most of the Premiership side, having faced them 12 times.

MUNSTER CENTRE JAMES Downey has been forced to sit through more DVD analysis sessions of Saracens than most players on this island.

The inside centre faced down the Springbok-influenced beast on no fewer than 12 occasions during his five seasons with Northampton Saints. A dirty dozen if ever there was one.

He knows, all too well, the pain of losing to Sarries, but has also enjoyed being on the right side of the result on five occasions.

That quintet of happy memories that include the only European meeting between the sides – an Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final clash in May 2009.

The Premiership side bound for Thomond Park have not changed their style greatly over recent years. In stark contrast to Munster who are in the throes of a revolution under Rob Penney.

Despite often finding himself as the casualty of the Kiwi’s expansive style, Downey is adamant that the double European champions must remain focused on their own game-plan rather than trying to match Saracens’ uber-abrasive ethos.

“You can look at the footage on Saracens and prepare yourself, but it comes down to how we play,” Downey told “and we just need to look after that side of things.”

In terms of the looming threat, the former Saint (now in a second spell with Munster) did highlight the dangers of a team brimming with the confidence of internationals returning from a successful series of Tests on top of their renowned strengths.

“They’ve a strong back three; they’re pretty strong all over really to be fair to them. They’ve a good pack and they are well drilled and know what they’re doing. I’ve played against them many times and I know the way they play as well.”

“I think with the win last week coming into this week it’s given us a big boost and I suppose we have to up our levels again coming into Heineken Cup. It’s a huge couple of weeks for the club and we just need to start off well at home.”

With the southern province’s 31-3 win over Glasgow coming as a welcome tonic after a stuttering spell of form, Downey is confident that the group’s regular pre-match preparation can once again pay dividends.

“I don’t think we change preparation too much, I think we need to do things the way we normally do and it is the hype and that sort of stuff that increases coming up to this. We know how important the next two weeks are but we just need to stay focused.”

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