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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 16 September, 2019
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Inside track: Mannix has Munster geared for ultimate physical and mental test

The coach returns to face his old employers today expecting a backlash after Racing’s home defeat last weekend.

Image: ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

ONE OF THE reasons for Munster optimism ahead of this afternoon très tough trip to face Racing Metro is that they have acquired Simon Mannix.

Mannix was the backs coach for Pierre Berbizier’s side for five years before he was heaved out of the job mid-way through last season.

The former All Black number 10, we are told, will give his new club the inside track on his old employers.

Perhaps wisely, he is not divulging too much of that insider knowledge outside of the team room.

“We’ve had a very good look at them as we do with all the opposition and they’ll get the respect that every team in France deserves.” Mannix said, adding that he expects the Paris club to come out swinging after losing at home to Montpelier last weekend.

“The French often provide a different challenge at home than when they’re away. They’re coming off a loss at home which will really hurt them.

“I Probably know better than most how a French side will react to that. We’re expecting a big reaction on the back of that. They’ve suffered a lot of injuries this year, but the depth of their squad is such that they will very, very competitive with talent across the field this weekend.”

Mannix pointed to Racing’s one-point defeat away to Clermont as evidence of their strength in depth as Berbizier had taken a shadow squad to the Massif Central.

However, the men in the stand can’t help either team this afternoon. And even as a backs coach, Mannix admitted that the game would be won and lost in the forward battle. An area, he says, Munster must be mentally prepared for before the opening whistle.

“Like most French sides we talk a lot about their size up front. At scrum time, they’ll put a lot of emphasis on that.” He said.

“They’re a very physical side - It’s a pretty confrontational style of rugby Racing play. They’ll be physically well-prepared so mentally, we’ll have to be right on song for that.”

Coming off the back of two defeats on the road, Mannix along with head coach Rob Penney is aware there is much improvement needed, but he also pointed out some of the positives from their display in the Aviva Stadium.

Positives

Asked whether he would like to start today’s game as they finished against Leinster, Mannix replied:

“I’d like to take the start of the game last week into the game. I thought we started outstandingly. We had a ball turned over and we were on for a real attacking opportunity with about eight on three overlap down the right. There were a lot of positives out of the game be it the start, be it the finish.

“Certainly, there was a period that cost us a few points. But we’re well aware of that.

“Globally, I guess the encouraging sign is the way we finished the game , the energy levels were very high. That’s important and we know that we’ll step up again this week in Paris.”

Audio courtesy of RedFM’s Big Red Bench, follow them on Twitter – @BigRedBench

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Sean Farrell

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