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Gaffney well aware of Task Ahead

21st April 2003 By Munster Rugby

Gaffney well aware of Task Ahead

Munster will have more than 10,000 of their fans cheering them on at Le Stadium de Toulouse on Saturday and coach Alan Gaffney knows exactly how unpredictable Toulouse can be.

Munster will have more than 10,000 of their fans cheering them on at Le Stadium de Toulouse on Saturday and coach Alan Gaffney knows exactly how unpredictable Toulouse can be.

Munster will have more than 10,000 of their fans cheering them on at Le Stadium de Toulouse on Saturday and coach Alan Gaffney knows exactly how unpredictable Heineken Cup semi-final opponents Toulouse can be following his experience with Leinster last year.

Leinster won the opening game at Donnybrook 40-10 before going down to their heaviest defeat of the season when they were trounced 43-7 in France. And, with home advantage and their vociferous supporters at Le Stadium de Toulouse, there is no doubt in Gaffney’s mind which Toulouse they will meet on Saturday.

"I faced Toulouse twice last season while I was involved with Leinster and saw both sides of them," said Gaffney "They didn’t play that well at Donnybrook but I knew that a side with their skill could not lose form to that extent and, in the return, we felt the full force of their attack.

"When you look at their back line with the likes of Frederic Michalak, Cedric Desbrosse, Xavier Garbajosa, Cedric Heymans, Emile Ntamack, Vincent Clerc and Clement Poitrenaud, you just have to wonder at the quality they have in their squad.

"The team is full of class internationals and it is not as if they are in their late thirties either – they are young with many years ahead of them. "Add to that the fact that they are effectively playing at home and it is going to be very tough for us. "They have had a good draw for both the quarter-finals and semi-finals, like Leinster, in that the games will be played in their home town. It might not be at their home ground but they will be sleeping in their own beds and they can go about their usual preparations.

"But we will go into the game with plenty of confidence after qualifying from such a tough Pool and then a quarter-final against the champions Leicester at Welford Road. "When you see that two of the sides in our Pool are in the semi-final then it strengthens the case that we were in a very tough draw and really we were just grateful to qualify.

"No doubt coming through that Pool, especially the final must-win game against Gloucester, stood us in good stead for the game at Leicester. "Beating the double European champions in their own back yard was a massive achievement for everyone involved with Munster and I would be lying if I said that what happened 12 months ago in the final wasn’t in the back of everyone’s minds.

"But as soon as the euphoria died down we had to come straight back down to earth, study the video and look at the areas where we need to improve. "It was a great effort but we are always looking at ways to get better, and we will need to out in Toulouse."

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