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Mick Galwey: Munster will need old-fashioned grunt to get over Saints in crunch Euro game

Joey Carbery has to deliver while Antoine Frisch can put down a marker

Keith Earls' return is a big boost for Munster and Ireland. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Joey Carbery must have a good kicking game for a Munster victory. Photo: Paul Devlin/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

John Ryan's move to New Zealand will be a big loss for Munster. Photo: Paul Devlin/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Mick GalweySunday World

Well, Munster are looking down the barrel of a gun at Northampton this afternoon.

After a brave but losing fight against the mighty Toulouse last week, my old team just has to win this cracker against the Northampton Saints.

If they lose, the road to recovery in the European Cup is long and steep, and the players and coach Graham Rowntree do not want to go there.

What Munster have to do is play as well as they did last week, and I believe that would be good enough against opposition that is not at the same level as that great Toulouse team.

It’s wonderful to see Keith Earls back in the starting Munster XV, having missed so much of this season.

Keith is timing his return to perfection, given that a couple of big showings, here and in the Christmas URC games, will have him right back in the Ireland squad for the Six Nations.

Conor Murray returns at scrum-half, and that means Craig Casey can come on for the last 20 minutes to put his typical spark into the Munster team.

It’s a potent mix of experience and the vitality of youth at a vital position on the field.

Joey Carbery will have to lead the team from out-half – and get the backs moving when the chance arises.

And he will have to kick every chance of points that will come his way.

Joey must not forget my mantra when it comes to European rugby – when you are in the other team’s 22, don’t leave without points.

Even if it is only a drop-goal, keep that scoreboard ticking over.

It’s a big afternoon for Munster’s Irish-qualified centre Antoine Frisch.

He played well against Toulouse last weekend, but centre is one of the most competitive positions in the Irish international squad, never mind team, right now.

Joey Carbery must have a good kicking game for a Munster victory. Photo: Paul Devlin/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Antoine needs a big match today if he is to really catch Andy Farrell’s attention.

And it is an important 80 minutes for Munster’s other centre, Jack Crowley, too. He’s in a rare old scrap to be one of Ireland’s three out-halves in the World Cup squad.

If Crowley can prove that he is versatile enough to play at centre too, it would be a huge attraction for Irish coach Farrell.

It’s another match for Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony and Gavin Coombes to do their thing in the forwards, leading Munster on.

Speaking of the Munster forwards, I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with Donal Lenihan that Munster have made a right bags of letting prop John Ryan leave for Super Rugby in New Zealand in January.

John is Munster through and through – and having got him back from Wasps, how on earth did we let him go again?

Something went badly wrong there.

It’s time for some old- fashioned Munster grunt this afternoon from all the pack, it’s a day to stand up and be counted.

Northampton have a really powerful pack, led by England back-row internationals Courtney Lawes and Lewis Ludlam.

Munster’s forwards must go to-to-toe with them, take them on in the loose and in the set-pieces, and then prevail.

John Ryan's move to New Zealand will be a big loss for Munster. Photo: Paul Devlin/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

There is no other way they can win the match and keep their European hopes alive.

By contrast, Connacht’s European Challenge Cup campaign is on fire after they went to Brive on Friday night and won.

Any day any Irish rugby team goes to France and beats the locals is a good one.

Now Connacht have two games won, and one bonus point bagged.

Yes, they got a break in Brive when their former player, Brive’s Aussie centre Abraham Papali’i, was sent off after 20 minutes.

From there the men from the West turned the screw and soon had a big lead built up.

Brive did come back with two second-half tries, but Connacht were well worth their 31-24 win.

Now they have every chance of going deep into the competition and they should try and make the most of that chance.

Other teams in the Challenge Cup will not make it their priority for this season.

Connacht could have a right go at this and coach Andy Friend might leave his role at the end of the season with a lump of silverware on the Boardroom table.

And that would be a nice way to go out.

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