Sport Rugby

Friday 19 January 2018

Farrell: Munster-Sarries showdown just too close to call

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Continued from back page

Rassie Erasmus is without Conor Murray and sweating on the fitness of Rory Scannell, but is expected to welcome CJ Stander and Duncan Williams back into the starting XV for his side's meeting with Saracens.

Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster are likely to stick closely to the side that beat Wasps in the quarter-final for Sunday's meeting with Clermont Auvergne in Lyon, with Fergus McFadden pushing for inclusion.

Ireland defence coach Andy Farrell believes tomorrow's game in Dublin is too close to call.

Farrell played for Saracens and began his coaching career with the London club, while he spent part of last season with Munster. His son Owen will be the English side's starting out-half, while a host of his current charges will be in Rassie Erasmus's team.

Although Munster effectively have home advantage and are expected to dominate the crowd at a sold-out Aviva Stadium, European and English champions Saracens are the bookies favourites for the game.

"What a game it's going to be and the game the day after is going to be just as exciting as well," he said.

"Two sides that are very confident in the way that they're playing at the minute. Two sides that seem to know and be comfortable in what they're about, as men and as a team.

"Saracens have been masters over the last period of time of playing the game in front of them, no matter where they're playing but I'm sure they're aware of the army of red that's going to come to the Aviva and a Munster side that is bang in form at this moment in time.

"I wouldn't call it."

Munster captain Peter O'Mahony will be a pivotal figure as he returns to the stadium where he produced a man of the match performance against England last month to help remind the Lions coaches of his credentials.

"Everyone knows there's a performance like that in Peter," Farrell said. "You could see a build-up through the Six Nations . . . he accepted being on the bench but you could see he wasn't accepting being on the bench and then there was a build and he got his spot right at the last moment.

"He was ready to perform."

Irish Independent

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