Topple The Trunk
Yannick Jauzion has lost a yard, but Dewi Morris says Munster should beware at the Heineken Cup final.
Last Updated: 23/05/08 12:52pm
We should be in for an absolute cracker at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday in what promises to be a great match-up between Munster and Toulouse.
Of course Toulouse will be without Vincent Clerc and Clement Poitrenaud who have been out for some time and they have a doubt over Byron Kelleher, who came off during their last match.
He's a massive plus-point for them, such a physical scrum-half and with Jean Baptiste Elissalde that's the biggest question mark - how will Elissalde cope against Ronan O'Gara?
Toulouse will be hoping Kelleher does play as he will take a bit of pressure off Ellissalde.
Toulouse have had a long season - French Top 14 is a damn sight harder than the Magners League - and they've probably secured second place having beaten Montauban at the weekend.
So they will be focussed on Saturday. Yannick Bru, the forwards coach came out and said that Toulouse didn't play particularly well at the weekend because they had other things on their mind, i.e, the big one at the Millennium Stadium.
They have got injuries. They are a bit battered, but one thing they do have is a great desire and a fantasticpack - and I think that is where, as ever, the game is going to be won and lost.
I honestly think it'll be a tremendous game - a hard, physical, forward orientated final, but also with flair with the likes of Doug Howlett, Rua Tipoki and Lifeimi Mafi for Munster.
Jauzion is a bit one-paced at the moment but he's world class for Toulouse.
Injuries have slowed him down recently but he isn't known as 'The Trunk' in France for nothing. They call him that as he ploughs forwards and through the gaps, staying on his feet, planting his legs down and allowing forwards and backs to take a line off him.
He fights to stay up on his feet which is great because the ball is then in the hand and the offload can carry on. That's why he's so good and so vital for Toulouse.
He hasn't been in great form of late and you could say he may be a weakness, but then again he's such a great player and the big occasions bring out the best in players. I just don't see Jauzion hampering Toulouse even though he's a yard off what he once was.
Munster will have to hit him and hit him hard, but that's easier said than done.
French sides aren't always the best travellers but that doesn't apply to Toulouse, who will be heading to Cardiff with absolute confidence.
If it's anything like the atmosphere at the final two years ago when Munster played Biarritz it'll be great. That was the best atmosphere I've ever experienced, it was back-of-your-neck stuff.
If Toulouse win, it'll be a third Heineken Cup final victory for the captain, Fabien Pelous. Well what can you say about Pelous? He's an icon, as Martin Johnson was for England.
If he gets another winners medal on Saturday, who knows, it may be a fitting end to a glittering career.
But he will have his work cut out against Paul O'Connell and Donncha O'Callaghan, but they'll need to watch out for Pelous's hands as he can pass like a back.
This will be Declan Kidney's big send off before he takes up his new post as head coach of Ireland and he'll be hoping to bow out of Munster on a high with another Heineken Cup.
Munster are slight favourites, purely because of the 16th man they will have at Cardiff with all the support, and they do tend to play better when they are underdogs.
They are very fresh having not played since May 10th against Glasgow, although that can work both ways: will they be a bit rusty or will they be fresh? Probably a bit of both.
It may take them 10 or 15 minutes to get into the swing of things but this is what Munster do, they normally have long breaks off because there are obviously so many players on international duty to consider.
Sometimes when you have a long time to prepare for a game and analyse the opposition you beat yourself up and get caught between two minds. That could work against Munster.
But Kidney is a shrewd guy and he has a big decision to make in who to go with at scrum half. Does he pick Tomas O'Leary or Peter Stringer? That's about the only dilemma he has got.
Munster's powerful old pack will be in for a battle, they know that. I doubt they can beat Toulouse up, but they may get parity.
They're a good unit, obviously with hundreds of caps between them, but there are question marks about the scrummaging, John Hayes and Anthony Horgan aren't particularly renowned for that.
But Munster have changed their game over the last couple of years by bringing in players such as Howlett, Tipoki and Mafi - guys that are willing to go from their own 22.
You've also got Ronan O'Gara who will throw balls out now, when normally he would have kicked to get territory and position. They now have a good balance in the side.
Both teams have great packs but I don't expect it to be a turgid forward affair. I think Munster will have a go as much as Toulouse and it should be an absolute thriller.
You'd be mad to bet against Munster - especially with the support that they will have at the Millennium Stadium -but I just have a little thought at the back of my head that Toulouse will come through.