Irish exile Monahan fires broadside at Munster
SHANE Monahan was only added to Gloucester's European squad this week but he is set to start on the wing against his former Ireland U-20 Grand Slam team-mates tomorrow in the crunch Heineken Cup clash against Munster.
And he has already made an impression before a ball has been kicked by claiming the two-time winners are "not at the same level they once were".
Meath man Monahan nwon a Grand Slam with Ireland U-20s in 2007 alongside likely Munster starters Ian Keatley, Felix Jones and Keith Earls with returning Simon Zebo potentially lining up against him on his return from injury.
"This is the biggest game I have been involved in and it means everything," he said. "It's a massive honour to be playing for Gloucester, with the standard of players past and present, and in a game of this magnitude.
"This is why you play in the horrible weather. It's not a normal game, it's Munster at Kingsholm in the Heineken Cup and you do need to lift yourself to the next level. It's as close as you'll get to an international game.
"I know a lot of the Munster lads. A number of the boys I won the U-20s Grand Slam with will no doubt be playing. You always want to do well against your fellow countrymen and I'm sure there will be plenty of banter flying."
Monahan was in the Leinster Academy and then moved to Connacht but the 26-year-old failed to get a full-time contract. The former Boyne player has started 10 games for Gloucester this term but the prospect of facing Zebo et al is by far his biggest test yet.
"Simon has done his talking on the pitch -- getting the Lions call-up -- you can't do much better than that," he added. "He's an exciting player, especially when he gets the ball in hands. But I try not to worry too much about the opposition. I try to focus on what I can bring to the table in attack and defence.
"I'm looking forward to getting out there. They're not at the same level as the Munster teams that won the Heineken Cup in the past, but it's still Munster and they're very similar to Gloucester.
"The passion and the intensity they bring, to the big games especially, will be there no matter what players they have. It's going to be a difficult and exciting game to be involved in."