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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Michael Scully

Munster v Sharks preview: Antoine Frisch on the contest he signed up for as Graham Rowntree makes the big calls

Graham Rowntree has made the big calls as Munster look to pull out all the Champions Cup stops once more.

Factoring in the 25 degree heat and dry, hard pitch at Kings Park in Durban, the Reds boss is banking on his young half-backs to set the tone against the Sharks in the knock-out last 16 tie.

So Jack Crowley gets the nod over Joey Carbery at out-half in a move that mirrors that at Test level, where Crowley was picked ahead of his more experienced colleague for the Ireland squad for the recently finished Six Nations.

READ MORE: Munster's Calvin Nash relishing chance to face Sharks in knock-out Champions Cup tie in Durban

Craig Casey is also in at scrum-half ahead of Conor Murray, despite Murray's Six Nations form, in a move that was made for the first time in the third round of the pool stages in January.

After two and a half years at the club, RG Snyman finally gets to make his Champions Cup debut and will be facing four of his World Cup winning Springbok team-mates in Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi, Bongi Mbonambi, Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi.

It is a big day for Snyman, who recently returned from his second ACL injury while with Munster.

"He's getting better," said Rowntree.

"The way our game has changed since he last played for us, he's had to get up to speed obviously coming back from injury, and he's a huge man.

"That engine needs a bit of fine-tuning, but he's getting there. From what I've seen in our training data and what I'm seeing with my eyes, he's certainly getting fitter and fitter."

Munster are also boosted by the return of club skipper Peter O'Mahony after his Grand Slam winning feats - his second time to complete the sweep in the championship - and by Niall Scannell and Antoine Frisch returning from injury after missing last weekend's poor display and potentially damaging URC defeat to Glasgow.

The thing about Munster is that a reaction can be expected after such a bad night.

"I'll get a reaction," said Rowntree. "The guys are honest, they were very down afterwards, as they should be.

"I was down afterwards, but the beauty of this sport is you have another huge challenge just around the corner, so you've got to deal with it.

“Composure, staying in the moment, doing your job, good communication between each other in the heat of the moment is everything.

Frisch made clear that the Reds know what is coming from the Sharks but they are looking forward to the challenge.

"We know they've a really strong pack, we know their strong points, strong set piece," the centre said.

"We know the way they defend as well, we just prepped all week for that and hopefully we can execute our game plan.

"You think about these types of games when you sign for the club, so I'm really excited, I can't wait."


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