Talk of a bonus point win wasnâ00t discussed at yesterdayâ00s press conference either, though such an outcome would certainly guarantee a home quarter-final for Munster on the second weekend of April. However, a win and depending how the other pools finish, might also be enough to hand Munster a much coveted last eight home fixture.
McGahan described the prospect of a home quarter final as a â00fantasticâ0 reward but he knows better than most the extent of the challenge against Montauban - a side that has won its last three home games against credible opposition in Sale, Biarritz and Bayonne.
â00A home quarter would be fantastic,â0 admitted the head coach. â00Thatâ00s an outcome at the end of the eighty minutes, but we have to navigate through that eighty minutes first. Itâ00s going to be extremely tough because Montauban are an extremely good side at home. Their results have been excellent so far this year: they had a good win against Sale there in the Heineken Cup. Theyâ00ll be sticky and they certainly have our number after losing here. Maybe (theyâ00ll think) the result could have gone their way.â0
McGahan was referring Munsterâ00s opening Heineken Cup game this season when the newcomers to the competition produced arguably their best display of the season coming within minutes of shocking the home side. A late Ronan Oâ00Gara penalty handed Munster a 19-17 win and that display by the small French club coupled with other notable displays in the Heineken Cup confirmed that theyâ00re a side to be treated with respect.
And itâ00s why McGahan is taking noting for granted after naming his strongest available XV for Munsterâ00s sixth and final pool match this season.
â00Weâ00ll be picking our strongest side,â0 he said. â00Itâ00s a Heineken Cup game and we need to make sure that we finish well. That has always been our intention to finish as high up as we can. Every opportunity out there to get a result, we need to take it and thereâ00s an opportunity to play well and weâ00ll take that opportunity.
â00The players have come back into training this week and theyâ00re very motivated to finish off this campaign very well, because as we know the internationals will depart for the Six Nations. Weâ00ll split up soon, so itâ00s important that we maintain and finish on a real high. Itâ00s about maintaining focus this week.â0
He added: â00The players certainly know what is at stake and they certainly know that their standards and the way they perform are always on show. Itâ00s very important every time we run out on the field, the Munster brand or the Munster players is put out front, so we must play accordingly.â0
Meanwhile, Munster captain Paul Oâ00Connell recalled the night the Reds played a get-out-of-jail-card against Montauban last October â00 but admitted that while Munsterâ00s performance was below par, it helped them refocus and find their direction for the season.
â00It was a close night, but I suppose those nights are all part of the process of getting to where we are at the moment and figuring out what weâ00re good at and what we need to do,â0 said Oâ00Connell. â00I think those nights â00 while there were a few close calls - helped us find our direction as a team and what weâ00ve needed to do to play better.
â00It was a very bad evening. We really needed to take teams on first and foremost and, while we would always try to do that, I think thereâ00s specific ways to do that and weâ00ve done that a lot better in the last two weeks.â0
Oâ00Connell is also expecting Montauban to give his team a searching test in what will be the Top-14 clubâ00s final Heineken Cup game this season.
â00Montauban have said a lot that theyâ00re ready for us. They didnâ00t have the strongest team out against Clermont last week, but theyâ00ve a very good record at home.
â00Theyâ00ve won their last two home games against Bayonne and Biarritz and theyâ00ve been playing very well at home.
â00Iâ00ve talked to Prendy (Mike Prendergast) about his time in Bourgoin. He says the French team that plays away from home and the team that plays at home are different.
â00Itâ00s the last game of the European Cup for them. The European champions are in town and weâ00ve no doubt about the level of motivation theyâ00ll have for the game. So itâ00s to make sure weâ00re mentally right ourselves to perform this weekend.â0
Munster prop Marcus Horan also admitted that Munster probably didnâ00t give Montauban the respect they deserved in October, adding that thereâ00ll be no complacency in the Reds camp on this occasion.
â00I suppose if we were being very honest, we probably didn't show them the respect that they deserved. I think we played well in patches and the performance as a whole wasn't up to standard.
"But having said that they're a good side and many people probably underestimated it, even ourselves. I think that they would be a very similar team to ourselves in that they play with great passion and a huge amount of pride, and I think this weekend will be no different, especially because they are at home.
"They have the European champions coming to town and they will try to get a scalp of the season for them. They're bottom of the table and will want to get something out of it. I suppose there would be no better scalp for them. They beat Sale down there and only lost to Clermont by a few points. It's definitely a tough place to go, they're very strong in certain areas and I'm sure there passion and pride will drive them on.
â00I think we have our own demons to deal with and I suppose one of them is the fact that we want to get a bit of consistency and get two good performances running together. On top of that as well, I think we owe it to supporters to try to fight for a home quarter-final, especially in today's climate. People are having to dig deep and they have dug deep over the last 10-11 years now.
â00It's one thing that is always on players' minds - if we can help in any way by making people walk to the stadium rather than fly, it will make a huge difference to people. That's definitely a driving force for us and there's definitely no complacency amongst the players as regards the task ahead of us on Saturday and what's at stake.â0
Munster: P Warwick D Howlett, K Earls, L Mafi, I Dowling, R O'Gara, T O'Leary, M Horan, J Flannery, J Hayes; D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell capt, A Quinlan, D Wallace, D Leamy. Replacements: D Fogarty, F Pucciariello, D Ryan, N Ronan, P Stringer, B Murphy, D Hurley