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Munster men to survive a swim with the Sharks

There was a time when Danny Cipriani (below) was the toast of Twickenham.

It wasn't all that long ago, March 2008 to be accurate, when he led England to a tortuous annihilation of Ireland.

He was instantly adorned as the natural successor to Jonny Wilkinson. Only better.

How the not-so-mighty have fallen. This was the season when Munster's reign of Europe moved into overdrive by adding the scalp of Toulouse to that of Biarritz Olympique in 2006 to become two-time European champions.

They were all set to rule club rugby on the continent like Cipriani was positioned to be at the controls of England's revival.


Then, Leinster happened to Munster in 2009 and the unpredictability that made Cipriani a colourful rugby player came back to bite him in his personal life.

And so Munster and Cipriani have come full circle.

Anthony Foley's men are working up their confidence after shafting Leinster at the Aviva.

The Sale out-half is back to his best, challenging Owen Farrell and George Ford for England honours.

Maybe, Foley and Cipriani will find out how far their rehabilitation has come around lunchtime tomorrow when the loser will be on a one-way ticket to Palookaville.

It may seem a touch extreme to consign the victims to the waste paper basket. But Clermont-Auvergne and Saracens are lurking around the corner of this Pool of Death.

The English club is not a one-man army. They do have other weapons ahead of him and in behind.

But, he is most definitely 'the trigger man'.

Sale will endeavour to engage Munster at scrum time, trade with them in the close exchanges and run the gauntlet of the breakdown where their captain, Dan Braid, the All Black, is a specialist.

The Sharks stand at third-from-bottom of the Premiership with 11 points from six rounds, taking a 43-10 hiding at Northampton Saints last week.

While Munster did bring their trademark breakdown brilliance against Leinster, they could have been in greater trouble for slowing down fast ball.

They will be dedicated to keeping more ball than they are chasing. Possession is the key to containing Sale and controlling their destiny.

Verdict: Munster

SALE SHARKS v MUNSTER, AJ Bell Stadium, Tomorrow (KO 1.0) Live SS2