Horan sounds out euro warning
October 6, 2010
Munster stawart Marcus Horan has talked up the province's euro chances © Getty Images
Prop Marcus Horan is adamant that Munster remain a force in Europe and has backed his side to extend their proud Heineken Cup record.
The two-time winners of Europe's premier club competition, beaten by Biarritz in last season's semi-finals, face a stiff challenge to qualify for the knock-out stages for the 13th consecutive season with London Irish, Ospreys and Toulon standing in their way in Pool 3. But Horan is confident they can get the job done and silence those who continue to suggest that their ageing squad have had their day.
"We've been written off before and it drives us. It's amazing how one game can turn things around," said the 33-year-old Horan ahead of their opener against London Irish on Saturday. "There's a lot of fight left in the guys and defeats like the one against Biarritz last season only made the fellas stronger.
"We've been here before. We've had 10 years of it but still came back so I can't see why we can't come back from it again. We are ageing. We're all getting older but a lot of us are still playing some great rugby.
"There's still great drive. There's a great mix of young players as well. It's always important to have a mix like that. No matter what team you are, as the years go on people will always say that you're getting too old. It's an excuse that people will use. But the drive is definitely there. Guys are keen and it still means so much to them."
This year Munster are fourth favourites behind Toulouse, Leicester and Clermont to win a third Heineken Cup and head coach Tony McGahan is targeting nothing less than reaching the business end of the tournament once again.
"It's very difficult to put the feeling into words after losing two semi-finals in consecutive years," said McGahan. "We really feel that they're two wasted opportunities to get into the final. Last season we were written off all season but still reached the semi-finals.
"To fall away while not too far from the final is very disappointing but this is a very strong group. We'll respond to this in the right way and make sure we're in contention this time. You have to get everything right on the day in big games. The last two years we haven't delivered at the semi-final stage."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Munster, No.8s, the imploding Australians, wonderful Glasgow and Lancaster's dilemma - it is Monday Maul time
As Ewen McKenzie exits stage left, the ARU remains under huge pressure, with CEO Bill Pulver feeling the brunt of Australian rugby's displeasure, Greg Growden writes
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the remarkable events in Brisbane and the first round of the European Rugby Champions Cup
Following Saturday's shock announcement, we look at the highs and the lows of Ewen McKenzie's brief stint as Wallabies coach.