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'Munster will be frothing at the mouth waiting for us' - Leinster must move on

Leinster boss Leo Cullen feels ‘Munster have the advantage in many ways.’

“WE’LL HAVE TO suck it up and get back on the horse pretty quickly,” said Rob Kearney about an hour after Leinster had been beaten 20-10 by Saracens in the Heineken Champions Cup final.

Tadhg Furlong went for the same animal-related analogy in agreeing that “it’s nice for us to dust ourselves down and get back on the horse.”

The pain of defeat at St James’ Park – and some of the key regrets – will linger in the coming days but Leinster have another big game this weekend as they host Munster on Saturday in the Guinness Pro14 semi-finals.

Saracens' players celebrate at the final whistle Leinster must overcome their dejection. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

“Munster will be frothing at the mouth waiting for us,” said Kearney, very much continuing the theme.

And Kearney is certainly correct. Munster will be eyeing up this final-four clash as a real opportunity after watching Leo Cullen’s Leinster engage in the closest thing rugby has to warfare.

The physicality of Leinster’s defeat to Saracens was utterly brutal, with the likes of Johnny Sexton and James Ryan confirming post-match that it had been of Test-match standard in that sense.

There will be battered bodies early on this week in the Leinster camp, although Cullen said on Saturday night that “there doesn’t seem to be any show-stoppers at this stage.”

This weekend’s game at the RDS is a repeat of the same fixture last season, when Munster visited the Dublin venue and lost 16-15 in dramatic circumstances.

On that occasion, Cullen’s squad bounced into the clash with a pep in their step having claimed the Champions Cup against Racing 92 the weekend before. This time they’re coming off the crushing disappointment of falling short against Sarries.

“The next few days won’t be great,” admitted Leinster scrum-half Luke McGrath before underlining that the visit of Munster is the perfect way for himself and his team-mates to move swiftly on.

Cullen sounded a word of warning about what Johann van Graan’s team will bring.

Max Deegan and teammates celebrate winning a penalty in the final moments of the game Leinster beat Munster in dramatic circumstances last year. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“Munster have the advantage in many ways because they’ve had a week of preparation under their belt already and I’m sure they will be geared up,” said Cullen.

“Even listening to some of the noise coming out of their camp as well, some coaches moving on, listening to some of the players and the way they are talking about not wanting to finish playing for Munster until they win some silverware.

“So, you know how much it means to them, so it should be a good battle.”

It still feels somewhat strange that the European Cup final isn’t the very last game of the season but Furlong stressed that Leinster appreciate exactly what is ahead this weekend.

“It’s knock-out rugby again,” said Furlong. “It’s finals rugby and it’s something that we build towards and aim to do.

“And look, we didn’t get over the line today and that’s credit for Saracens but it’s Munster next, it’s the rivalry, and we’re playing them in the RDS, which doesn’t happen too often.

“So it’s a special occasion for players.”

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Murray Kinsella

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