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‘In terms of morale and momentum we're in a good place’ – Van Graan says no Munster hangover ahead of Aviva return


Johann van Graan after the Toulouse defeat. Picture: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Johann van Graan after the Toulouse defeat. Picture: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Johann van Graan after the Toulouse defeat. Picture: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Munster Head Coach Johann van Graan is confident that the morale and momentum of his squad hasn't been negatively impacted by their recent difficult defeat to Toulouse in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final.

Munster will return to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday looking to bounce back against Leinster, as Van Graan's men go in search of a win that would guarantee themselves a home quarter-final in the URC.

Having given the players an extra few days off to recover from the dramatic penalty shootout loss to Toulouse, it's business as usual again in Limerick, as Munster ramp up preparations for this weekend's crucial clash with their old foes.

“In terms of morale and momentum we're in a good place,” Van Graan said.

“We felt we played really well against Toulouse, it was an excellent game of rugby and we had opportunities to win it in 80, to win it in the 100. Some opportunities we used, and some we didn't.

“We got knocked out by virtue of a kick. Morale and momentum is certainly on a very positive side in terms of us as a club.

“In terms of the game at the weekend, it's the last round of the league, and it's big for all teams. What's at stake for us is if we can get enough points out of the weekend and get a home quarter-final at Thomond Park, it's something we targeted at the start of the season. It's something we'd like to do, but we have to go to Dublin and do it, which is no easy task.”

Leinster are expected to rotate their squad with next week's Champions Cup final in mind, but Van Graan isn't reading too much into that, and is instead, keeping the focus on his side.

“I can't speak on their behalf, all I will say is they aren't URC champions for nothing,” Van Graan said.

“It's Munster versus Leinster in the Aviva, so we expect a massive game and it'll be a tightly contested encounter.

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"You've just got to look at the performances (in South Africa), they were over the try line in the game against the Sharks in Durban, and they came up just short against the Stormers in Cape Town.

“Whatever team they select will be a tough game for us. We're playing away at the Aviva on Saturday.”

Van Graan will name his strongest possible side, even if he will be without injured duo Damian de Allende and Simon Zebo.

"We've got to focus only on this game,” Van Graan added.

“We've got a week off next week so we're going to put out our best available side. We've got to go to Dublin and play against the current champions in the URC.

"We obviously want to play at Thomond Park for the quarter-final, so we've got to go and make sure we perform and hopefully get the points to put ourselves in that position.

"In terms of the other teams, if you don't get the points, you might have to go to Belfast or you might have to go to Cape Town or Durban or Pretoria. You'd much rather stay in Limerick so what a good weekend for the URC to look forward to."

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