MUNSTER face a daunting round of 16 Champions Cup tilt away to South African outfit Cell C Sharks at Kings Park, Durban, at lunchtime on Saturday (kick-off 12.30pm).
If Graham Rowntree’s side come through, a quarter-final will quickly follow against either Toulouse or Vodacom Bulls the following weekend.
The coach has described last weekend’s assignment as “a defining moment” for the province.
Munster also wrap up their URC campaign in South Africa this month, with rapid-fire contests against DHL Stormers on April 15 and Sharks, again, seven days later.
There is little unknown about the Munster squad, but what of their Cup opponents?
The club is certainly not afraid of blowing its own trumpet.
“It’s guaranteed that the Springboks in the Cell C Sharks side will be bringing their own level of intensity, leadership, character, and standards that will drive their teammates to deliver a special performance,” the club’s website stated ahead of their unexpected URC loss at struggling Scarlets.
It continued: “Springbok captain Siya Kolisi leads the team and his all-Bok front row of Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, and Thomas du Toit will be called upon to deliver results upfront. Throw in Eben Etzebeth and you know this is a pack that will back down for nothing.”
Sharks are likely to field a similar team as the weekend for the visit of the two-time champions, who fell to a disappointing (38-26) loss to Glasgow Warriors at Thomond Park. Munster had trailed 28-0 at the interval, before producing a recovery in the closing 40 minutes.
Energetic winger Calvin Nash was the pick of Munster’s players, lifting the home crowd with his incisive running and taking his late try well.
Munster are currently fifth in the URC table, and thus likely face an away quarter-final in late April.