Thomond Holds No Fears For Leicester – Austin Healey
18th January 2007 By Munster Rugby
As the excitement mounts and the search for tickets grows more frenzied, Austin Healey, the man whose try – and all round performance – in the 2002 final did so much to break Munster’s hearts, is confident that the Tigers can gain recompense for the defeat at Welford Road earlier this season.
“I would like to wish Munster all the luck in the world for today’s game because I think they are going to need it. My money is on a Leicester Tigers win today because I think they have the best pack in the competition and they are simply getting better and better as a team.” he said.
“I know that Munster won at Welford Road in Round One. And I know that nobody is expected to win at Thomond Park. But I’ve just got this hunch that Martin Corry and his team can bring to an end Munster’s proud Heineken Cup record on home soil just in time for them to pull down the old Thomond.
Healey was on the Tigers side that was beaten 28-9 by Brive in the 1997 final in Cardiff Arms Park and was voted Man of the Match in each of Leicester’s wins in 2001 and 2002. And while he is happy enough away from the playing side of the game, he admits there is only one place in the world he would like to be on Saturday, “I have to say that since retiring – and thanks to all the Munster fans who sent me messages of goodwill for my old age – I haven’t missed the game too much. But this weekend there is only one place I wish I could be – out in the middle in a Leicester Tigers jersey preparing to face the full might of Munster. Of all the things I managed to do in my career I never got to play at Thomond Park and I regret that.”
Nor does Healey fear Munster’s record in Limerick attributing it to factors outside the team. “Thomond Park is described as a fortress, but it is the fans who make it the special place it is.”
But Healey does not believe it will affect the Leicester players, “No, they will feed off the hostility. Martin Corry will use that to galvanise his players.”
And will the impish Healey be travelling to Thomond. Unfortunately not. “”I was thinking about going to the game, but I’ve had so much stick from Munster fans ever since I was Man of the Match in the 2002 final when Tigers beat Munster at the Millennium Stadium I thought I’d stay at home. Why on earth have I become the man that everyone in Munster loves to hate? I can’t wait for 5.30pm on Saturday.