Despite the province’s obvious rich history, you’d have to admit that Peter Stringer’s name is right near the top of the list when it comes to the term ‘Munster legend’.
After piling up well over 200 appearances, three Champions Cup finals, two European crowns and scoring that try against Biarritz you have to agree he’s earned the right to that title.
The scrum-half called into our bar to be part the upcoming ‘Paddy’s Christmas Cracker’ special, which airs on Sunday December 23, and got right into the ruck on all things rugby with his former Munster colleagues Alan Quinlan and Mick Galwey, as well as former Wales star Shane Williams.
Before that comes out, we managed to tackle him for a quick chat on his beloved men in red and Stringer reckons Castres will be a ‘dangerous’ prospect for Munster on Saturday, especially with home advantage.
The French outfit were involved in a niggly affair in losing at Thomond Park last weekend and the former Munster number nine is expecting things to go up a notch this weekend.
“The longer the Champions Cup goes on and the French teams start losing interest, you feel that they’ll fade away. But not this Castres team,” said Stringer.
“Not this time. They’ll feel like they still have a shout of qualifying. It’s dangerous for Munster going over there. A lot of the French teams aren’t bothered with it and focus on the Top 14 instead, but Castres won that last year and they’ll have Europe in their sights.
Munster’s away form in the Pro 14 hasn’t been great either, so it’s going to be very tough for them to go down to France and get a win.
“It was a bit of a niggly one last week.
“There was needle throughout the game and Rory Kockott wanted to get stuck into everyone when he came on. I’m expecting the niggle to be ten times worse in France.”
As for the rest of Pool 2, Stringer feels it could come down to a final game showdown with Gloucester if Munster are to qualify for the knockout stages, even if they are a bit “flaky” in his opinion.
“Going to Exeter and winning was a big statement for Gloucester,” said the former Munster man.
“Munster only got a draw there and you would have considered that a good result. I’ve been to Exeter a few times and it’s a tough place to go, so credit to Gloucester for winning there.
“They’re a funny team, though. One week they can put up a great performance and put 40 points on someone. The next, they could turnaround and ship 40 points.
The way they throw the ball around, anything is likely to happen.
“They’re waiting for Munster in the last game of the group and that’ll be huge. Even though Gloucester are flaky enough, he Kingsholm Stadium is a hard place to go – especially when Gloucester are in good form.”
The question on Munster fans minds of late has been, can the province end 10 years of hurt in their favourite competition? For Stringer that wait has already been far too long.
“I still fancy Munster to come out of the group. They’ve got into a routine this season of playing their best available 15. They haven’t chopped and changed that much – they don’t have the luxury that Leinster have of playing their second- and third-string sides while still picking up wins,” added the man capped 98 times for Ireland.
“Munster need to get into a winning habit and they will do that by playing the best player available to them in each position. They’ve been in and around the semi-final stages of the Champions Cup for the last few years, but 2008 is the last time they won it.”
Ten years is a long time to go without a European trophy. It’s something I know the province is crying out for.
“Once they get the combination of Conor Murray and Joey Carbery with a few games under their belt, and nail that down, I can see Munster being at the business end of the tournament.”