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Here's what the French papers are saying about Munster's visit to Clermont

Munster’s chances of winning are being talked up by certain quarters of the French media.

Murray Kinsella reports from Clermont-Ferrand

MUNSTER LOOK FOR redemption against Clermont this afternoon at Stade Marcel-Michelin, just over a week after being beaten by the Top 14 side in Limerick.

We’ve heard plenty from the Irish province’s camp, and it’s very clear that their focus is on ensuring their performance levels are raised considerably. But what is the viewpoint in France?

We’ve taken a scan of the French papers to find out.


Midi Olympique

Midol Cover Toulon dominate the front page of Midol, but Benjamin Kayser of Clermont gets a spot on the sidebar. Midi Olympique Midi Olympique

While the ‘rage of Toulon’ dominates the front page of Midi Olympique, there is a full page of the rugby newspaper dedicated to the meeting of Clermont and Munster.

The “key to the match” will be the performance of Conor Murray at scrum-half for the Irish side, says one article. It is suggested that Clermont’s selection of Zac Guildford on the wing is a counter-measure against the superb contestable kicking game of Murray.

The 23-year-old will relish the chance to test himself against Morgan Parra, the article says, while also pointing out that Murray and out-half Ian Keatley remain on track to be “as solid a pair as Peter Stringer and Ronan O’Gara” were before them.

A seperate article reminds us that Munster missed out on notching their 100th European win last weekend, also stressing that Anthony Foley’s men will target that milestone again tomorrow.

Conor Murray Midi Olympique believe that Conor Murray is the key man for Munster. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

There is mention of the fact that this clash could be “the first day of the rest of the season” for ASM scrum-half Parra, who has been absent since the 11th of October. He is “the leader of Clermont’s game plan and their spirit,” underlines the short piece.

Finally, hooker Benjamin Kayser is interviewed, and he says Clermont are halfway towards their goal of eliminating Munster from contention in Pool 1.

He points out that outsider status this weekend means Foley’s side “have less pressure” than last weekend, and articulates his belief that this element will suit the Irish players.

La Montagne

IMAG1128 Le Montagne's front page refers to this afternoon's clash.

The main local daily newspaper is always strong on rugby and this morning’s edition is no different, with the front page stating ‘Clermont set to dance with Munster’, as they anticipate a ‘symphony of colours in the city and at Stade Michelin.’

Two full pages are given over to coverage of the match, with the lead article titled ‘The other half of the road…’. Journalist Christophe Buron writes that while the stadium will “shudder with the passion and fervour” of the Clermont fans, Munster will “turn their noses up at the hostile environment” and play their own game.

The piece continues to point out that Clermont “took the first innings in Thomond Park without playing perfectly” and generally promotes the chance Munster have to cause an upset in France.

Peter O'Mahony with Damien Chouly O'Mahony is praised in this morning's La Montagne. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Across the page, there is a feature piece on Nick ‘Bendy’ Abendanon, the fullback who has been such a success since arriving from Bath last summer. “His level of performance does not surprise me,” states head coach Franck Azéma.

Beneath, the focus turns to Peter O’Mahony, “the proud soldier of a Red Army that has been called into action”. Valéry Lefort writes that Munster are “a team apart, not only because of their history, but also because they are the only team that has two captains.”

The point is that O’Connell is often the man to deal with the referees, whereas O’Mahony is a “relentless worker behind the scenes.” The Ireland back row tells La Montagne that “the thing that guides us today is fear.”


Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 10.15.16 A portion of the front page of L'Équipe this morning. L'Équipe L'Équipe

The front page of the world-famous sports daily says an ‘Earthquake is expected in Auvergne’ this afternoon as Munster arrive with revenge on their minds.

All the way back on page 16, the coverage gets underway, leading with a long article on the returning Parra. Needless to say, journalist Aurélien Bouisset is expecting big things from the French international, after Ludovic ‘Rado” Radosavljevic deputised in recent times.

Of more interest to Irish fans is the Q and A with former Munster backs coach Simon Mannix, now in charge of Pro D2 leaders Pau, who have James Coughlan in their ranks.

Mannix says he’s sure that Munster can win at Stade Marcel-Michelin: “The Clermont team should expect a huge reaction [from Munster]. This province is truly proud and rugby is very important there.

Simon Mannix Simon Mannix is positive about Munster's chances. Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

“In terms of physicality, I think the lads will play with massive intensity,” continues Mannix.

“Munster have a strong capacity for analysing the opposition. I remember last season before the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Toulouse, we spent a month preparing for it.

“This afternoon, I expect a very tactical match, with Munster holding onto the ball more. This will be a different Munster. On paper, Clermont are stronger, but a hurting Munster are never beaten. I can’t wait to see it.”

You and every other Munster fan in the world, Simon. Allez les rouges.

Analysis: What Munster must do to take a win away from Clermont

Letter from Clermont: Munster out to silence ASM’s fervent fans

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