Calm Before The Storm
15th January 2005 By Munster Rugby
NEC Harlequins officials are expecting a record breaking crowd of over 31,000 to turn up at Twickenham today for the Pool 4 clash this afternoon (1pm).
With the 1pm kick-off at Twickenham it was an early start this morning for the Munster squad and mangement. Alarm clocks were set for 8am at their Runnymede Hotel on the banks of the River Thames and after cereal and juice the squad took themselves to the hotel car park for the customary line-out and back drill routine.
Coach Alan Gaffney reported everyone to be in ‘good shape’ ahead of what he termed was, ‘a massive game for Munster’. Watching the side go through their paces was Ronan O’Gara his right hand encased in plaster, hopeful to be back in action by the end of the month.
The permutation for Gaffney’s side is simple enough – they have to win. Castres lie on 16 points, two behind Munster and they play their final game today against a Neath-Swansea Ospreys side whose interest in the competition has ended.
For their part Harlequins will playing for much more than pride. They will be more than anxious to shake off their indifferent recent form and one presumes they would like nothing better than to re-boot their season with a win against a Munster side they ran right to the wire last time the sides met in Thomond Park.
Munster: C Cullen; S Payne, M Mullins, R Henderson, A Horgan; P Burke, P Stringer; M Horan, F Sheahan, J Hayes, D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell, A Quinlan, D Leamy, A Foley (capt) Replacements: J Flannery, G McIlwham, T Hogan, J Williams, M Prendergast, J Holland, M Lawlor
NEC Harlequins: G Duffy; S Keogh, D James, M Deane, U Monye; A Dunne, O So’oialo; C Jones, A Tiatia, J Dawson, K Rudzki, S Miall, N Easter, L Sherriff, T Diprose (capt) Replacements: J Hayter, T Muggeridge, R Winters, M Molitika, A Reay, J Staunton, T Williams
Referee: Joel Jutge (France)