Monday 16 September 2019

Foley: We must hit ground running

Francis Saili leads the way at training earlier this week
Francis Saili leads the way at training earlier this week

Declan Rooney

Munster will hope to launch their Champions Cup campaign with victory over Treviso tomorrow and the records suggest that the home fans can expect a win for Anthony Foley's side.

Never in the province's history have the Reds failed to win their first home game of the pool stages, so the omens are good that the CJ Stander skippered reds will get off to a good start at Thomond Park.

On the eight occasions that Munster have lost their opening pool fixture they have been away from home, while all nine meetings against Italian opposition in Europe have ended in victory for Munster.

Tomorrow's opponents have met on four occasions in the old Heineken Cup, with Munster recording four convincing wins against Treviso, and have scored a staggering 167 points against the Italians along the way.

But the Pro12 has seen Treviso taste some significant success against Munster, with three victories going to the Italians from the 11 meetings between. Most recently, Munster recorded an 18-13 triumph on the opening day of the season when Umberto Casellato's side visited Irish Independent Park.

As recently as last weekend Treviso impressed in defeat at the Sportsground against Connacht, and the Munster coach is predicting a similar stern challenge for his side. Talk of bonus-point wins have not come up for discussion, he says.

"The object is to win the game," said Foley. "We sat down and looked at Treviso and how good they were up in Connacht last week, and how good they were at times in the game down in Cork.

"We understand the level of performance that they're going to bring. Everybody rises in this competition so we know how tough it's going to be. It's about not being afraid of that, but embracing it and kicking on with it."

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Early indications were that Thomond Park could be heaving tomorrow with in excess of 16,000 tickets already sold by Tuesday last. Foley said he'd love to see the 16th man play a key role.

"We've always had that umbilical cord for so many years with our supporters," the Munster coach reflected.

"It hasgotten us over the line on so many occasions, sometimes when we didn't deserve to get over the line but they've stuck with us for long periods and everybody gets rewards out of that."

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