Wednesday 22 November 2017

Fernandez Lobbe wary of rebuilt Reds' passion play

Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Toulon
Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Toulon

John Fallon in Toulon

Toulon flanker Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe said he has been very impressed by the way Munster have rebuilt their side in the past couple of years.

The Argentinian captain has clashed with Munster for Sale Sharks and Toulon over the past eight years and is wary of the threat posed by Paul O'Connell and Co in Sunday's Heineken Cup semi-final in Marseille.

"I think they're a very, very good team. They did very well the transition of some players that we used to always see in the red jersey, now they are not there but everyone that came in bought straight away into the culture.

"We can see the way they play, the culture they have and it's going to be very, very tough. It's going to be tough up front, we know it's going to be tough in the backs because they play a complete game. I think they're playing very well, so it's going to be a big battle."

Fernandez Lobbe said there is no danger of them taking Munster for granted at the Stade Velodrome.

The Argentina captain says he has never forgotten a bitter Heineken Cup lesson dished out to him in his debut season in the competition by Munster.

He was playing for Sale when they were turned over home and away by the Reds.

SPECIAL

"It was my first experience of the Heineken Cup and we lost at home and away. The away game was something special, you could feel just Munster all over you.

"They played with a lot of passion, they just love the European competition and it's going to be hard for us," said the 32-year-old.

Fernandez Lobbe, who has just signed a new three-year contract, said that Toulon came of age in the Heineken Cup when they played Munster three seasons ago, with the home side coming out on top in the two games.

"It was the first time Toulon started loving this Heineken Cup, because it was a great atmosphere and great game."

An English Premiership winner with Sale, Fernandez Lobbe said that Toulon are coping with their bid to win the Heineken Cup and the Top 14 double.

But he stressed they are not driven by that goal and that after Sunday's showdown, they will again turn their attention to winning their first the Top 14 crown since 1992, having been beaten in the last two finals.

"We're enjoying it a lot but it's honestly not in our heads about winning the two. We just want to enjoy every game," he said.

"We are lucky enough to be playing another semi-final, so we just want to enjoy it and hopefully win. But we know Munster love the Heineken Cup and there's a lot of respect for Munster."

Irish Independent

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