Tuesday 26 September 2017

Exile Hart expects future team-mates to have too much for Toulouse

James Hart will soon join Munster on a two-year deal but is anxious to play his part as reigning champions Racing 92 mount a late bid to hold on to their Top 14 crown. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
James Hart will soon join Munster on a two-year deal but is anxious to play his part as reigning champions Racing 92 mount a late bid to hold on to their Top 14 crown. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

John Fallon

Scrum-half James Hart will have more than a passing interest in Munster's clash with Toulouse as the side he will be joining in the summer battles it out in a Champions Cup quarter-final against the side he will face for Racing 92 in two weeks.

Hart will soon join Munster on a two-year deal but is anxious to play his part as reigning champions Racing 92 mount a late bid to hold on to their Top 14 crown.

He has played against both Toulouse and Munster this season, having joined after six years with Grenoble, and is quite confident that Rassie Erasmus' men will advance to the semi-finals on Saturday.

Hart played for Racing 92 against Munster in January at Thomond Park and while the deal was already done, it hadn't been made public by then that he was returning to Ireland.

"It was a bit surreal, knowing that this is where I was going. What a fantastic stadium, I can't wait to play there but at the time I had a job to do and make sure I didn't get sidetracked.

"It's the same this weekend. I'm looking forward to watching the game but the main focus will be on us playing Toulouse in a couple of weeks.

"We don't, unfortunately, have a game this weekend but we resume against Pau and then play Toulouse," he said.

Power The 25-year-old had a spell as teenager with Toulouse and was in the same youths team as current Toulouse half-backs Sebastien Bezy and Jean Marc Doussain.

Ronan O'Gara's Racing 92 are currently eighth in the table and can't afford any more slip-ups in their battle to make a play-off spot.

Hart said that while Munster look to have far too much power for Toulouse, he said that they can't afford to underestimate them.

"Toulouse have some serious talent, there is no doubt about that, and they can be devastating in punishing teams, especially if there is any loose kicking. The likes of full-back Maxime Medard will punish teams, they have a great counter-attack.

"They are tenth in the Top 14 and under pressure in their efforts to make the play-offs and failure to do that would be massive. So they will be looking to this one to give them confidence and momentum heading into the final games.

"But I just think Munster have too much for them, especially at home. We saw that ourselves first-hand when we played them in the pool and I think Munster will win it," added the former Clontarf scrum-half who moved to Grenoble to pursue his dream of professional rugby.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport