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Toulon boss Bernard Laporte: We are 51pc favourites to beat Munster

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Jonny Wilkiinson of Toulon

Jonny Wilkiinson of Toulon

Jonny Wilkiinson of Toulon

Bernard Laporte believes his reigning Heineken Cup champions are just marginal favourites to beat Rob Penney's Munster in Marseille on Sunday.

French giants are in flying form ahead of the clash with the two-time champions Munster after annihilating  Perpignan 46-31 in Barcelona at the weekend to move three points clear at the head of the Top 14 and just over a fortnight ago they were scintillating in their victory over Leinster.

Laporte believes the fact that the game is on French soil gives his side a slight edge.

"The match is 51-49 percent in our favour," said Laporte. "We have a slight advantage in that we are playing at home, at the Velodrome, even if one recalls that last year we went away to Saracens in the semi-finals and won.

"All the Munster coaching staff were at our game in Barcelona on Saturday and they have nothing but the European Cup in their heads.

"Their strength in the mauls is an undoubted weapon and they are equally strong in the lineouts as well. They haven't reached this stage of the competition for nothing, but then they have to say the same thing about us."

Laporte believes that the addition of southern hemisphere stars Bryan Habana and Drew Mitchell means his side are better than the team who lifted the Heineken Cup for the first time last season.

"This season we have a squad of 30 to 35 players competing for places in the line-ups for both competitions," added Laporte. "You have to have a large body of players to select from, otherwise it is impossible to fight on two fronts.

"With regard to last season, several players have made progress, and there is also more maturity in the squad.

"The most glaring example is that of (second row) Jocelino Suta. Last year he was satisfied to be second or third choice. Now he has assumed his responsibilities and he behaves like a first-choice player. He has made a huge amount of progress."

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