Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby Union: Munster Ready for the Test of Nerves; Kidney Excited by Challenge

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby Union: Munster Ready for the Test of Nerves; Kidney Excited by Challenge

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Baldock

MUNSTER coach Declan Kidney has described today's Heineken Cup final against French giants Toulouse as the ultimate test for his team.

Kidney will head into the Test arena later this summer as Ireland's new coach.

The Munster dream is to give him a memorable Millennium Stadium farewell as they target a second European title under his direction in three seasons.

But it must be achieved against the most successful club in Heineken Cup history, who have already landed the trophy on three previous occasions.

Kidney said: "The feelings of excitement are palpable. We are under no illusions. Everyone really models themselves on Toulouse and the passion and the skill they play with.

"They present the ultimate challenge, but it has been like that for us ever since the pool draw was made 11 months ago."

Munster came through easily the toughest of this season's qualifying pools, topping a group that also included Wasps, Clermont Auvergne and Llanelli Scarlets.

Priceless losing bonus points collected away to Wasps and Clermont ultimately squeezed them into the knockout rounds where they overcame Guinness Premiership challengers Gloucester and Saracens.

Kidney added: "We have to roll up our sleeves and go to work again. It doesn't get any easier but it is an absolute privilege to be involved."

Munster will once again be roared on by a colossal red army of travelling supports intent on making the Millennium Stadium a 'home' venue.

Thousands of fans have arrived in Cardiff, desperate to see Munster repeat their heroics of two years ago when they beat Biarritz after a gripping final.

Munster skipper Paul O'Connell said: "They are our 16th man. I suppose it is something that started when Munster went on a long unbeaten run during the 1999-2000 season.

"You have to give them something to shout about, but that 16th man has really helped us over the line on a fair number of occasions. I hope they can do the same thing this time."

Kidney has retained the side that edged past semi-final opponents Saracens 18-16 at Coventry's Ricoh Arena four weeks ago. …

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