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O'Connor: Just bit of banter

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Devin Toner, Leinster. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Devin Toner, Leinster. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

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Devin Toner, Leinster. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

THE tension of this rivalry can be measured by the simple fact that Munster lead this very personal duel 18-17 with two draws over the length of 37 matches played through the professional era.

Leinster have more tries (52-47), more conversions (36-34), more penalties (104-103), more drop goals (6-4) and more points (692-637), but one more loss.

The slings and arrows have come mostly from Munster, as the overestimated value of psychological warfare has been central to the ill will felt by the uneven spread of Ireland internationals over the course of the Six Nations.

Strangely, Simon Zebo has been the most relevant voice of reason. He was forthcoming in revealing that Joe Schmidt made no matter of his try celebrations.

More importantly, there were issues in defence that Schmidt emphasised to Zebo and the winger was humble enough to accept that there are areas that need attention.

Coach Matt O'Connor (pictured) was keen to take unwanted and unnecessary heat out of the contest and Rob Penney's label of Leinster as "the Six Nations champions".

"I think Paul O'Connell and Conor Murray and Peter O'Mahony will be quite disappointed with that statement, if it was me," he said, tongue firmly planted in cheek. "But it's a bit of banter, isn't it? It's not a biggie. It's not motivating us."

The serious business of winning and losing is what this is all about: "It's a fantastic rivalry, isn't it?" added O'Connor.

"Someone told me that it is going to be the biggest crowd at a PRO12 game ever so it is a fantastic occasion. Everyone is well aware of what a wonderful game it should be.

"Whether it turns out that way for the neutral or not I don't know, but there will be a lot of passion and a lot of blood spilled and hopefully we will be on the right side of the scoreboard."

If Leinster can manage to make their home advantage pay dividends, it will bring them level on wins, at 18 apiece, with Munster in a professional engagement that has held the Irish public captive.

Leinster v Munster, The Aviva Stadium, tomorrow (KO 7.0) RTE 2

Verdict: Leinster


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