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O'Donnell looking to take a leaf out of Scarlets' book on how to tackle Toulon

“We’ll get a good idea of what it takes to beat Toulon if we play well against Scarlets,” says the Munster flanker.

Munster flanker Tommy O'Donnell.
Munster flanker Tommy O'Donnell.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

INJURY ROBBED TOMMY O’Donnell of the chance to be a Grand Slam hero with Ireland, but the Munster flanker hopes he can still end the season with some silverware for his province.

O’Donnell looks set for a major role with Munster in the weeks ahead after he recovered form a shoulder injury. In the absence of Chris Cloete, he hopes that Saturday’s opponents Scarlets — who beat them in last season’s Guinness Pro12 final — can show them the way past Toulon in the Champions Cup quarter-final.

The French giants visit Thomond Park on Saturday week, but after plotting their way past Toulon in the pool stages, O’Donnell thinks Scarlets are the perfect opponent this weekend.

“Scarlets have played Toulon twice this season in two very good games, especially their last home game,” said O’Donnell. “They gave a kind of blueprint of how you need to go out and play against Toulon, and we’ll get a good idea of what it takes to beat Toulon if we play well against Scarlets.

“I know it’s easy to look forward to a quarter-final but when you’re looking at such a good team like Scarlets in front of you, you have to deal with them first and you have to approach them with every bit of sincerity and due diligence because they are such a good team.

“They can score from anywhere, as we’ve seen with the two games with them last season. We’ll have to be on the ball and worry about them, and then worry about next week when it comes next Monday.

“The cherry is that if you get a good performance this week, you’re building into a very important game next week, which tees up your whole season.”

O’Donnell was a replacement last Friday night as Munster joined Leinster and Ulster in suffering recent defeats to an in-form Edinburgh. It was a scattered display from Johann van Graan’s side in a game that originally fell foul to the recent wintery conditions and had to be rescheduled.

While time is running out for Munster to secure second place in Conference A and home advantage in the Pro14 quarter-finals, O’Donnell knows they have to improve their away form to have any hope.

“When you look back on it, it was frustrating because you see some of the opportunities that you mightn’t have seen originally. It was frustrating to see sometimes when we did have opportunities that we weren’t clinical and we didn’t take them.

“I read an article there, I’m not sure what paper it was in. It talked about Alex Ferguson and he used to say: ‘you have all your details and all you plans and then you need a little bit of luck as well’. Last year you could say that sometimes we got drop goals away from home where if the ball dropped differently, we wouldn’t have got those drop goals.

“Yes, our away form hasn’t been as good this season, we just need to improve on that I suppose. Game management and being more clinical, taking those chances when we can, we have to keep improving on that, keep working on that for the run-in to the season and the last away games. We’ll have to take maximum points out of them.”

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Declan Rooney

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