Dublin: 12°C Saturday 25 June 2022

'We have our 16th man, we have the Red Army travelling to Dublin'

Johann van Graan is encouraged by the ticket sales for Saturday’s clash with Toulouse in Dublin.

Munster fans [file photo].
Munster fans [file photo].
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

MUNSTER HEAD COACH Johann van Graan says his team will be banking on their vocal supporters to make a difference as they look to take down defending champions Toulouse in their Champions Cup quarter-final at the Aviva Stadium this weekend.

The province were unable to host their home quarter-final at Thomond Park due to Ed Sheeran’s two concerts at the Limerick venue this week, meaning the game was moved to the Aviva.

Despite the shift to Dublin, Munster fans are showing strong support, with more than 31,000 tickets already sold for Saturday’s game.

Munster have organised subsidised day-return buses to bring supporters from Limerick, Cork, Waterford, Thurles, Tralee, and Ennis to the Champions Cup clash, while they are also hoping for a big number of Dublin-based fans to turn out this weekend.

“We have our 16th man, we have the Red Army travelling to Dublin,” said van Graan today. 

“It’s already the second-highest attendance for a Munster quarter-final in our history. We are banking on our 16th man to make a massive difference on Saturday in Dublin.”

Munster hope to see ticket sales continuing to climb in the coming days, giving them even more support as they take on title holders Toulouse.

It has been an up-and-down campaign for Ugo Mola’s side in the Top 14 but they warmed up for the Munster game by beating Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle last weekend and have a host of star players in their team.

Van Graan highlighted the quality of Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack in the halfbacks, as well as the set-piece qualities and “power, weight and height” of the Toulouse forward pack.

But he also believes Munster are a better team now than was the case just over a year ago, when Toulouse came to Thomond Park and won 40-33 in an exciting Round-of-16 game.

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“We’ve good continuity in our team, we’ve been together now for a number of games after the Six Nations, so some good continuity in our team,” said van Graan.

“We’re another year together, and from a development point of view, a lot of guys have a lot of experience, and gained a lot of experience.

“It’s the second time in a year we’ll play Toulouse, and a lot of guys have got more experience in our journey as a group. We’d like to believe we’re in a better spot a year in, but every game is different. It’s a new challenge, a new venue, different teams, new referee, and it’ll certainly be a challenge on Saturday afternoon.

“The only thing we can do is focus on ourselves and look at what we need to do. We need to make sure we have our defence spot-on, make sure that we keep the ball in hand when we have it, and then the broken field will be huge.

“Then we have to adapt to the referee; those power battles are huge in both teams in the 22, so what you do in the middle of the pitch with your discipline will be big, big points in the game.”

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