Rua Tipoki and Leo Cullen
Rua Tipoki and Leo Cullen at the Heineken Cup Semi Final Draw in Edinburgh
Graham Stuart
Rare Home Semi Venue On Offer
1 January 2009, 2:10 pm
By Chris Byrne
A home country Heineken Cup semi final awaits Munster should they overcome thr considerable challenge of the Ospreys in the quarter final on Easter Sunday in Thomond Park Stadium (1pm).
It's only the second time in eight attempts that Munster have received an advantage that according to backs coach Jason Holland is more important for their loyal supporters. " It's great for them if it happens because of all the times they've been asked to dig deep to traipse all over Europe to support us. Fair play to them they've never ever been found wanting, never let us down."

But other than that Holland pointedly refused to discuss possible venue or likely opposition. "It's totally speculative to do that. There's no point,because we face as big a quarter final challenge as anything that's gone before. Yes of course having the Ospreys in Thomond Park is brilliant. Again it will be a little easier on supporters financially particularly after last weekend when in tough times, they turned up in the south of France and then had to divvy up more hard earned cash to stay on as loads of them did.

"But Ospreys won't be one bit fazed about coming here. They'll have loads of supporters who'll make themselves heard.

"Ospreys have proved a good side on the road. They took a bonus point out of Welford Road in their Pool game and then a little like ourselves showed great heart to come back and snatch a bonus point in Perpignan.

"So we'll be under no illusions about this one. Games between us are always close and even though we won over there in the League that will have no effect on the game. I think though with the quality of player in both sides it could be a real cracker."

Holland was accompanied by Rua Tipoki who also expressed his admiration for the style of football Ospreys play. "They like to play with the ball in hand, put width on it whenever they can. I like the way they play the game and yes we're definitely going to have our hands full. But hopefully we can hang in there and the Thomond Park crowd can get us home."

Munster's quarter final opponents were represented by their Scottish international winger Nikki Walker and very personable coach Sean Holley who will be anxious to atone for the disappoinment of losing at the same stage last year. "We got here last season but really didn't capitalise on our good work even though we knew we were good enough to beat Saracens.

"I do believe we are a quarter-final team but it's how we cope with Munster and having to be consistent at this stage of the competition. The Ospreys do thrive in the big game environment with big crowds. And we do have a lot of international players in our squad who know how to handle hostile places. "It's a one-off game and anything can happen and we know we have individuals who can create something out of nothing."

"But we know we have to go to the home of the current champions, Munster, and win. That is a daunting prospect but it is a challenge we are right up for."

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1Leinster Rugby19141469
2Ulster Rugby19140565
3Munster Rugby19140563
4Glasgow Warriors18140460
5Ospreys19111756
6Scarlets1991945
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