Sunday 18 February 2018

Munster walking into backlash, insists Mafi

Mafi: backlash warning
Mafi: backlash warning
Arsenal will be hoping to find some of Munster’s legendary spirit today when they face a tough trip to Manchester City and three of their players yesterday donned the gear of the Irish province in preparation. Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil

Ruaidhri O'Connor in Perpignan

MUNSTER must beware a Perpignan backlash as they go into the lion's den at the Stade Aime Giral this afternoon.

That's according to their former centre Lifeimi Mafi, who has warned his old team-mates that they face a "hurt" Catalan side playing for their Heineken Cup lives at their famously intimidating home ground.

The Tongan will line out against his former team for the first time today after missing last Sunday's defeat through suspension.

His return is one of seven changes the hosts have made as Welsh stars James Hook and Luke Charteris are rested, while Munster have welcomed Donnacha Ryan back from injury by starting him in the second-row at a ground he visited with a view to a move in October.

Rob Penney makes three other changes, with James Cronin and BJ Botha in at prop and Cathal Sheridan replacing the injured Conor Murray for his first Heineken Cup start.

Pool 6 leaders Munster beat Perpignan 36-8 at Thomond Park six days ago, but Mafi has warned the Reds that things won't be as straightforward this afternoon.

"The boys are hurt about last Sunday. We felt we played well, but at times we looked rubbish and gave away easy turnovers and it gave Munster opportunities to attack us," he said.

"The focus this week has been on being aggressive in contact and putting pressure on Munster.

"We need to put them under pressure and we need to do it early. We can't let Munster get away from us like they did last week. Our heads dropped but at home we can't do that, especially not in front of our fans, passionate people, and we need to win it to stay in the competition."

Irish Independent

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