O’Connell: Munster troops braced for battle

Cormac Byrne

PAUL O’CONNELL claims there has been no World Cup hangover in the Munster camp and they are ready for battle with Leinster this Friday at the Aviva.

The giant second row believes the mood around Thomond Park has been lifted by the exciting new talent emerging at the reigning Celtic League champions.

“There has been a great buzz since we came back (from the World Cup),” he said. “All the Ireland lads are really enthusiastic to get playing.”

O’Connell has been particularly impressed by BJ Botha, the Reds’ new addition, adding: “He demands a lot of everyone in the pack around him which, for me, is very enjoyable.”

Munster and Leinster’s main men have been living in each other’s pockets over the past three months, and |O’Connell feels that the old rivalry will spark once more at the Aviva on Friday.

“There is going to be a massive crowd there, a big heaving atmosphere, so it’s going to be a great test,” he said.

Alain Rolland has been spared any involvement in Wales’ Six Nations campaign.

Controversial Irish referee Rolland became public enemy number one in Wales after issuing Sam Warburton with a red card for a spear tackle on Vincent Clerc during their World Cup semi-final defeat by France.

Rolland has been given two games to oversee – France v England on March 11 and Italy v Scotland on March 17 – and will not be present at any of Wales’ fixtures in the capacity of assistant referee or television match official.

France, however, will come face to face with the referee who did them few favours in their World Cup final against New Zealand.

Craig Joubert will oversee France’s potentially decisive clash with Wales at the Millennium Stadium on March 17.