Leamy summons spirit of 2008 as Munster prepare to relish underdogs tag at Saints

RG Snyman is set to return against Saints (photo by RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images)RG Snyman is set to return against Saints (photo by RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images)
RG Snyman is set to return against Saints (photo by RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images)
Defence coach Denis Leamy insists Munster will relish being the underdogs when they travel to face Saints on Sunday.

And he has called on the current crop of players to channel the spirit of 2008 in this weekend’s Investec Champions Cup last-16 clash.

Sixteen years ago, Munster travelled to Gloucester for the quarter-finals. As Saints currently are, Gloucester were flying high in the Premiership, but Munster prevailed 16-3.

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The Irish province went on to claim European glory that season.

And Leamy said: "It's Europe, it's Munster in England against the Premiership leaders. Written off...it's Munster."

He added: “It’s exactly what Munster are about.

"You think about going to Gloucester in ’08. It feels a little bit like this. We defended for 20 minutes.

"Someone found Federico Pucciariello out having a burger in the car park - and he came on and wins us the game, full of chips.

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“It’s amazing looking back. We had to absorb a lot of pressure. Our scrum was under a huge amount of pressure and he comes off the bench, we win a big scrum, we go up the pitch and win the game in that two minutes, really.

"Once we got ahead we were never going to be beaten.

“Gloucester were an incredible side at the time, I think they were the English champions. So, there certainly is that feel to it - and you certainly miss days like that when you’re retired.”

Munster were beaten by Saints at Thomond Park back in January, but Leamy doesn't want his team to dwell on that defeat.

"You sense it - but it's important not to overplay that," he said. "That's not what we're about in terms of that siege mentality.

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"But Northampton have earned the right to be favourites, they've earned the right to be spoken about the way they play the game.

"You look at the English internationals they have. Alex Mitchell will probably return and he's a fantastic player for them, makes them tick.

"Look at a player like Fin Smith, he's probably going to be a Lion or certainly an English player for a number of years.

"(Courtney) Lawes, (Lewis) Ludlam, (Curtis) Langdon. They're really, really good players.

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"So it's a big task and that's why people will make them favourites and say Munster have a difficult job to do.

"We've got to fall back on our abilities. We've had the ability to go on the road.

"We've won in Glasgow, Dublin, Cape Town last year. We've won in Toulon.

"We're good enough to go to Northampton and put in a performance. If that's good enough on the day, absolutely brilliant."

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Munster are set to be handed a huge boost for this weekend’s game, with South African star RG Snyman ready to return.

The World Cup winning-lock was ruled out of last Saturday’s clash with Cardiff Blues due to illness but is now back in training.

"He had a virus," said Leamy. "Yeah, he was huffing and puffing a little bit but we hope he’ll be fine."

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