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It's About Respect
1 January 2005, 12:55 am
"I have the height of respect for this Ospreys side. They are very competitive, with some outstanding players who play an exciting brand of rugby. It doesn't get any tougher than this - Alan Gaffney
"I have the height of respect for this Ospreys side. They are very competitive, with some outstanding players. They play an exciting brand of rugby. Believe me, it doesn't get any tougher than this. This game is right up there with any of the ones like Gloucester or Stade (Francais) that we've faced in the past - Munster coach Alan Gaffney talking about his side's clash with Neath-Swansea Ospreys

And addressing the topic that concentrated most minds this week when word of Ronan O'Gara's injury seeped out, Gaffney's smile oozed contentment when he said, "I think one of the great things we did year was to get Paul (Burke) to come over to join us. Obviously having Ronan out is a loss. I mean that goes without saying. But having a player of Paul s quality coming in, makes you feel very relaxed. He plays the game we like to play. He plays the game on the line. That s what we intend to do. That s the way he s always played the game. So yes I m quite relaxed with Paul playing."

Now for relaxed read ultra. Believe Gaffney when he says he feels he has a player who can more than ably replace his frontline 10. " Oh look, when you lose a player like Ronan it's a blow, of course it is. I can't very well stand up and say, gee no problem, we've just lost the Ireland and Lion 10 and that's ok. But I'm not going to lose sleep because now we have Paul (Burke).

" And yes it's going to be tough. Very tough. I think Ospreys are a very good side and that s not just coach-speak. I respect them. I mean, we ve played them three times, they beat us first time and the two games they lost, one was by two points, the other in Cork we won by four and they played with 14 for over half the game.

"They lead the Celtic League and when you think they ve gone from being third in Wales at the start of the season to undisputed number ones at this stage, it says it all about them, about the sort of side they are and just as importantly, about the sort of form they are in at the presenet time.

"In terms of personnel they have what will probably be the Welsh front row and a lot of strength in their pack. Then with backs like Jason Spice from Wellington, Gavin Henson, Sonny Parker, Elvis Seveali i, Shane Williams and Adrian Durston at the back they have an enterprising and very good attacking backline.

"We played each other enough times to have a fairly good handle on each other. We know them inside-out, they know us inside-out really. So we have to try and come up with a few surprises and of course they will try and do likewise. They didn t really attack us last time but I do expect they will attack us on Saturday.

" The games we ve played have been very competitive. They cleaned us up very easily in St Helens early in the year and as I said the games we won were close run. So really there s little between us.Two competitive sides who respect each other and that's as it should be.

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