Defeat in Clermont wouldn’t be the end, but Foley fired up for improvement

MUNSTER HEAD COACH Anthony Foley says Munster must impose themselves on Clermont’s “home patch” tomorrow, after the Top 14 outfit did exactly that in Thomond Park last weekend.

The province face a crucial Pool 1 Champions Cup tie at the impressive Stade Marel-Michelin, which will host a sell-out 18,030 crowd for the 15.15 [Irish time] kick-off.

Defeat tomorrow would leave Munster facing the prospect of having to win away to Saracens in round five of the European group stages, but that January fixture was likely to be vital anyway, according to Foley.

Indeed, a losing bonus point tomorrow keeps Munster in the hunt, even if victory against Clermont is the only prospect on their minds right now.

Former number eight Foley insists he always believed this particular pool would go down to the wire, and refuses to accept that losing in Clermont would end Munster’s interest.

“We do understand that we’re at half time in this fixture [Clermont] and that we need to go after them in their home patch, because they came after us on ours.”

A dramatic win away to Sale and an excellent victory at home to Saracens in Limerick had left Munster in a strong position in the group before last weekend, but a 16-9 failure to Franck Azéma’s Clermont was not part of the plan.

Foley was left frustrated at Thomond Park last weekend. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Some of the things we did against Saracens, we didn’t do against Clermont and you don’t expect to win games if you’re not on top of them,” admits Foley.

“This is a high-end competition so we need to push for the standards we know we have. We’ve done it in more recent times, so we need to find that and go after that.”

Foley says he was never anything less than fully aware of the quality of Clermont, who operate with a budget of almost €29million and possess a squad that has a genuine depth of international-quality players.

The Munster head coach says ASM’s performance in Limerick last weekend was little surprise to him. Rather than any awakening, it underlined to him exactly where his side will need to be to pull off the unlikely in Clermont-Ferrand tomorrow.

“They’re very threatening, so probably everybody else has seen how good they are and how well equipped they are to have a crack at the European Cup.

“We understand that and we understand the level of performance we need to get to. What we did on Saturday wasn’t good enough and you end up losing against a side like that when it’s not good enough.”

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