Saturday 24 February 2018

Exiles opener a massive test -- McGahan

Munster will face London Irish in the opening weekend of the Heineken Cup. Photo: Getty Images
Munster will face London Irish in the opening weekend of the Heineken Cup. Photo: Getty Images
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

MUNSTER have been handed the most difficult task of the Irish provinces on the opening weekend of the Heineken Cup as they face a trip cross-channel to face London Irish at the Madejski Stadium.

Tony McGahan's side take on the Exiles on Saturday, October 9, with the Premiership outfit rubbishing the notion that they will move the clash with Munster away from their regular home.

"Doing battle with the best of the best on our own turf guarantees a true test of how far we have come in recent years," said London Irish's director of rugby, Toby Booth.

"We need to leave our visitors in no doubt that the Madejski is a London Irish stronghold. I ask our fans to fill the stadium three times over and show that we are a true force to be reckoned with, on and off the pitch."

Leinster's opener on the same day is not much easier as they face big-spending Racing-Metro 92 at home, while Ulster welcome Italian newcomers Aironi -- who will also play in the Magners League -- to Ravenhill on Friday, October 8.

"Home advantage is important but can also bring its own pressures, particularly in round one, but London Irish will prove a massive challenge," said Munster coach Tony McGahan.

"They were just edged out of a place in the (Guinness Premiership) play-offs last season and prior to that lost narrowly in the semi-final. We recognise the quality of the opposition we face in our pool.

"There are no weak sides: each of them, I believe, is well capable of winning the competition, certainly all well capable of getting results on the road. It's easily the most competitive cup tournament in world club rugby."

Champions Toulouse open their defence with a home clash against 2004 and '07 winners Wasps.

Irish Independent

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