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Expectation is Penney's currency at Munster

MUNSTER coach Rob Penney's favourite word seems to be "wonderful". He uses it a lot. The honeymoon period, it seems, is not quite at an end yet.

He will see some kind of wonderful when Leinster and Munster come into contact with each other at The Aviva Stadium in the Pro12 League on Saturday evening.

"It is going to be a wonderful occasion. It is two great international class sides going toe-to-toe," said Penney, clearly revelling in the anticipation of the occasion for which there have been more than 40,000 tickets sold.

In fairness, Penney is not exactly a coach thrown into a new conversation. He has known his own club derbies as head coach of Canterbury for six seasons, winning the ITM Cup in his last four there.

"When you are playing games against your countrymen, there is also the potential of international selection down the road and benchmarking yourself against the best -- all those little bits and pieces that make it a very, very interesting challenge on Saturday night."

Penney sees "a lot of similarities" between Canterbury and Munster as two brand clubs with a worldwide reputation for a winning culture.

Sadly, Munster have fallen on relatively lean times, seeing Leinster dominate in Europe over the past four years, while they have struggled to land a final four slot.

"In terms of the expectation, from a Munster perspective, (we want to) use the expectation as a powerful driving tool to emulate what the great sides of the past have done.

"The transitioning talk around the Munster group is something we've got to move on from. The expectation is there to perform. They have to do that.

"Every week, they've got to grow and step up further. That is the expectation they have and it is the expectation we have of them."

While Munster are definitely in a period of change and evolution, Leinster have been hampered by a cluster of injuries that would trouble the Health Service Executive.

Another New Zealander, Joe Schmidt, has imbued Leinster with a sense of expectation too. Standards have rocketed even if results have not yet followed this season.

Will Munster or Leinster's level of expectation be met on Saturday? Will Leinster do to Munster what The Ospreys did? Or will Munster do to Leinster what Connacht did?

These are the questions that will be answered.


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