Ronan O'Gara talks about the growth of Munster as they prepare for their toughest test yet

Last Updated: 26/04/13 9:40am

O'Gara: believing in the new guard

Ronan O'Gara's record tenth Heineken Cup semi-final for Munster may well be his hardest.

Munster face a daunting task as they take on clear favourites Clermont Auvergne in Montpellier on Saturday. Few have given them a chance, but few gave them a chance against Harlequins in the quarter-finals and O'Gara says that the belief is strong within the squad.

"We are excited about it - it is a massive challenge and I think when you have unity of purpose and unity of minds then you can achieve a lot," Said O'Gara on the Rugby Club.

"Brian O'Driscoll texted me to slag me off for doing a lap of honour after a quarter-final. He has a fair point but it was where the team was. It's great because we are hearing stories about fans doing anything they can to get to France - they will do anything it takes, and that is the mentality of the team."

Ronan O'Gara

"That is what we had in the quarter-final. It is obviously going to be a lot harder against a better team but it can be done."

With Munster's old guard retiring, a new coach trying to develop a new game plan and their young recruits trying to find their feet, doubts creeping into the minds of the two-time champions would be understandable. However, that win in the quarter-final against all expectation has got them believing again.

"I suppose up to that game I was wondering where are the Denis Leamys, where are the David Wallaces, the Jerry Flannerys? People of that world class ability. But no one became a world class player overnight - I think you can see Peter O'Mahony and Tommy O'Donnell have really exploded onto it and are hitting top form. That is exactly what they needed - that shot of confidence from beating Chris Robshaw, from beating Nick Easter and saying to themselves that they are as good as these guys. Everyone has to start somewhere - these are the new brigade and the fellas who are hopefully going to drive Munster to the final.

"We were beginning to wonder if this love affair between the Heineken Cup and Munster was over, what stage where we at and were the fans buying into this new team.

"At the Harlequins game we knew we had good support but it was only afterwards that you realised how intense and passionate that support was.

"It meant a lot - Brian O'Driscoll texted me to slag me off for doing a lap of honour after a quarter-final. He has a fair point but it was where the team was. It's great because we are hearing stories about fans doing anything they can to get to France - they will do anything it takes, and that is the mentality of the team.

"We know that the emotion and goodwill is not enough, you need to be tactically astute and to perform on the day. Sometimes we have been over the pitch emotionally and sometimes we have been under-cooked tactically. But when we have married the two then we have lifted the Cup."