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O’Connell Starts

14th January 2011 By Munster Rugby

O’Connell Starts

Paul O’Connell’s return to the Munster starting XV couldn’t come at a more opportune time as they face into what the players accept is a win or bust game against Toulon on Sunday at the Stade Mayol.

O'Connell's inclusion means Mick O'Driscoll, although in a rich vein of form, moves to the bench as Tony McGahan makes just three changes from the side that played Ospreys home and away.

Peter Stringer retains the number 9 jersey, not surprisingly given his current form while John Hayes starts ahead of Tony Buckley.

Mathematically, a bonus point and London Irish beating Ospreys, keeps this Pool open until the final round of matches a week hence.

And mathematically, a Munster win in Toulon, keeps this Pool open until the final round of matches.

Any one of three teams can still win it.

 And, mathematically, Irish could still emerge. 

But mathematics wasn't in Munster minds at this week's media session after training in CIT, with players and management focussed on just one outcome.

“As far as we're concerned, it's  a case of winning on Sunday, simple as that.” was Donncha O'Callaghan – man of the match last weekend against Glasgow Warriors – take on Sunday's game. “This is what we're all about. It's really what we were reared on in terms of the professional club game. The Heineken Cup is where it's at.”

“It was the first international club competition. It's different to the League (Magners) obviously because it's knock-out rugby. You could lose three four games in the Magners and still qualify for the knock-out stage. You don't have that leeway in this competition.”

And facing the prospect of elimination should they lose, does the Corkman who is about to win his 177th Munster cap feel the weight of pressure ? “Not especially. But I think that's because we trust each other.”

“We've been here before. In this situation.  There was Gloucester in Thomond Park. There was the quarter final away to Stade in a gale force wind in our faces. There was Perpignan away. People might write us off. We'll never do that to ourselves.”

Munster: P Warwick; D Howlett, K Earls, S Tuitupou, J Murphy; R O'Gara, P Stringer; W du Preez, D Varley, J Hayes; D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell; J Coughlan, D Wallace, D Leamy capt. Replacements: M Sherry, D Hurley, T Buckley, M O'Driscoll, D Ryan, N Ronan, T O'Leary, L Mafi.


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