De Villiers eyes victory
Centre believes Munster can beat Biarritz without talismanic skipper
Last Updated: May 1, 2010 12:00pm
De Villiers (R): Has backed Mick O'Driscoll to perform on Sunday
Jean de Villiers believes Munster can overcome the absence of inspirational skipper Paul O'Connell and win their Heineken Cup semi-final against Biarritz on Sunday.
The Irish province travel to the Basque stronghold of San Sebastian without Ireland talisman O'Connell, who has been ruled out with a groin problem sustained at the end of the RBS Six Nations campaign.
But De Villiers insists replacement Mick O'Driscoll can step up to the mark as the two-time champions prepare for a repeat of the 2006 final, which they edged 23-19.
The South African centre said: "Of course Paul will be missed. He's a great player, a great leader. But we have the players and experience to cope.
"One of the things I have learned through my career is that everyone can be replaced.
"Mick's been fantastic in the role he's played alongside Donncha O'Callaghan and the leadership abilities he's shown."
De Villiers is determined to leave Ireland with a winners' medal as he prepares to head back to South Africa at the end of the season in order to regain his place in the Springbok squad ahead of next year's World Cup.
The 29-year-old added: "The reason I came abroad and chose a team like Munster is because of how successful they've been in the past.
"If we don't win the Heineken Cup, the year will not be a success for us and I think that's how it will be viewed by the public as well.
"That's the sort of ambition that's in this squad. That's one of the attractions for joining them.
"So there's a big onus on every individual to do their part in getting that result."
England World Cup winner Iain Balshaw will start for Biarritz at full-back but is not expecting to gain a recall into the national side even if he plays out of his skin.
Balshaw said: "I don't think I'll ever play for England again, no matter how well I play for Biarritz.
"I thought I'd done well last season for Gloucester but it turned out it wasn't good enough. I'm not angry about that.
"There are young guys coming through. If I was asked to play again by England, of course I would. I just don't think I'm going to be asked."