Munster hooker Niall Scannell. James Crombie/INPHO
front up

'We're definitely going to come out swinging... That's what Munster do'

Niall Scannell is relishing going up against a heavyweight Toulouse pack on Saturday.

TOULOUSE MIGHT HAVE a lengthy list of injury concerns in their backline but they look like being at close to full throttle up front when they arrive in Thomond Park on Saturday to take on Munster in the Champions Cup round of 16.

It’s expected that head coach Ugo Mola will welcome hooker Julien Marchand and loosehead prop Cyrill Baille back into his starting front row after both of them excelled in France’s Six Nations campaign.

It’s likely that former All Blacks tighthead Charlie Faumuina, still going strong at 34, will be alongside them in an imposing Toulouse front row that should ensure Munster have another major challenge in that area a week on from Leinster getting on top of them.

Flanker Rynhardt Elstadt will be missed – he was ruled out due to recently returning to South Africa to take a pilot exam – but the French side can choose from players like Rory and Richie Arnold, Joe Tekori, France-capped François Cros and Selevasio Tolofua, and Alban Placines in the back five of their pack.

Munster hooker Niall Scannell feels last weekend’s test against an excellent Leinster pack was timely in view of what is to come on Saturday. 

“It does help that we played against Leinster last week and you’re playing against an all-international front row, and I think they have an all-international front row off the bench as well,” said Scannell.

“So we’ve got to that standard last week and we’ve just got to do it again and replicate it. Obviously, there will be minute changes in terms of technique and things like that. It’s going to be a huge challenge but it’s something I’m looking forward to.

“I’ve never played, for example, against Julien Marchand and that’s a guy that you want to test yourself against and see where you’re at, and that’s a challenge all three of us across the front row will be looking at and the same for anyone who comes off the bench.

“These are the challenges you want as a front row. People probably think there’s a fear factor but there’s nothing better than going after a pack that’s bigger than you and coming out the other side of it, so that’s a challenge for us because they are physically a lot bigger.

julien-marchand-comes-up-against-billy-burns France hooker Julien Marchand is a Toulouse man. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

“So it’s definitely going to be an exciting week… but they are very big, I just thought I’d underline that!”

Munster will need a huge response after the disappointment of last weekend’s defeat to Leinster in the Guinness Pro14 final.

Toulouse, who also have backline stars like Antoine Dupont, Romain Ntamack, and Cheslin Kolbe, will fancy their chances at Thomond Park without any fans, so Munster are fighting to keep their European season alive.

“What other choice do we have now but to come out swinging?” said Scannell. “That is what Munster do and that is what we will have to do.

“Don’t get me wrong, we would prefer not to be putting ourselves in these positions but it is a great chance of redemption this weekend that you don’t ordinarily get after losing a final.

“Sometimes you just really have to dwell on it and do a pre-season, but yes we are in a bit of a corner now.

“I’m sure Toulouse know that and equally we know that we are dealing with one of the superpowers of European rugby coming over here with some of the best X-factor in the world looking to do the same, so yes we’re certainly after putting ourselves in that scenario.

“We’re definitely going to come out swinging, I think no one would expect anything different from us.”

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel