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Sexton: Province rivalry outweighs battle with Ronan

JONNY Sexton has insisted that the rivalry between Leinster and Munster is bigger than the battle between himself and his opposite number 10, Ronan O'Gara.

The out-halves have been battling it out for the green jersey over the past number of seasons and their duel will be one of the main talking points in tomorrow night's crunch Pro12 clash at the Aviva Stadium, but Sexton reckons that the rivalry between the two teams is bigger than the two No 10s.

"It's not about me versus Ronan O'Gara," said the St Mary's man. "It's Leinster versus Munster. I've never looked at it as a one-on-one battle."

Munster hooker Damien Varley yesterday breathed a sigh of relief as he was cleared to play, after a disciplinary committee decided not to impose a ban after his red card in Saturday's defeat to the Ospreys.

Former Munster star Barry Murphy reckons the province can overcome last weekend's defeat and beat the hosts for the first time at the stadium since its redevelopment.

"They'll be going to win," he said. "There is very little between the teams. They are more than capable of it. It will be a close game.

"Up until last weekend, Munster had defended well and they will need to do that again."

Munster centre Casey Laulala is confident of a positive few weeks for Rob Penney's side -- providing they can get over their 30-15 mauling by the Ospreys.

"We have massive, massive games coming up and we have to learn quickly and move forward. That starts with Leinster and Racing to come after that," said Laulala, who has impressed in his four Pro12 appearances to date.

"It is all to play for this weekend. We want to go into the Heineken Cup playing well and full of confidence so this weekend's game is vital."