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Munster looking forward to 'massively exciting' Toulouse challenge

Attack coach Stephen Larkham and Mike Haley have reacted to today’s Champions Cup draw.

Munster attack coach Stephen Larkham.
Munster attack coach Stephen Larkham.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

MUNSTER ATTACK COACH Stephen Larkham says the province won’t lose focus on their short-term goals following today’s draw for the Champions Cup round-of-16.

The province have been drawn at home to play French side Toulouse, who currently lead Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle by seven points in the Top14 table, winning 14 of their 19 league games.

Munster have plenty of history with the French heavyweights, with their most recent meeting a 41-16 win at Thomond Park at the same stage back in 2017.

Toulouse are a more formidable outfit now, however, led by the brilliant half-back pairing of France internationals Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack.

Munster have a lot of rugby to play before that fixture, with games against Scarlets and Benetton on the horizon before the Pro14 final meeting with Leinster on 27 March.

And Larkham says Munster, who are a on a four-game winning streak, will look to keep some momentum going ahead of that European date with Toulouse.

“I’ll definitely have to do my homework, it’s a team that I haven’t really spent any time on this year but that’ll come down the track,” said Larkham, speaking just moments after the draw had been confirmed.

“There will be a bit of buzz around this draw now this afternoon and maybe tomorrow but we’ve definitely got a strong focus here on Scarlets this weekend first. 

“Then over the next couple of weeks, we’ll certainly do our homework so that we’re prepped for that one as well. I think, you know, we’ve done it all season, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. 

“We want to make sure that the most important game is the game this weekend.”

Should Munster beat Toulouse, they will go on to play an away fixture against either Wasps or Clermont Auvergne in the quarter-finals.

Munster fullback Mike Haley, who scored a superb solo try in the Pro14 win against Connacht last Friday, said the draw has already generated an extra bit of excitement around the squad.

“It’s obviously massively exciting,” Haley said.

“They’re a fantastic team, they’re going well but we probably won’t be looking into it too much, we’ve got a lot coming up in the next few weeks.

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“But just from hearing it there’s a big buzz of excitement around the place.”

Haley echoed Larkham’s view that the squad will try use the next few weeks to build momentum ahead of the game, which will be played on the weekend of 2/3/4 April.

“We’ve built on our performances and we’ll be looking this weekend just to build again, the European game is a good three or four weeks off and we have to take it week on week, but I can guarantee each week we’re going in with a confidence that we can win the game.”

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