Munster welcome their great rivals Leinster to Thomand Park on Saturday (5.15pm), with Pro14 points and a hell of a lot of pride on the line.
With what promises to be a titanic contest in store, we managed to grab a few minutes with Munster legend Peter Stringer ahead of the game.
Stringer dropped some cracking stories on our recent Paddy’s Christmas Cracker special (catch up if you missed it here) and we stole him for a few minutes before filming to get his views on the game that stops Irish rugby.
With 98 Ireland caps to his name, Stringer knows better than most how important this fixture can be when it comes to international selection and he feels Saturday clash will be as close to a ‘trail game’ for the coveted green jersey as the rugby public will see.
“Munster v Leinster is very special, interprovincial games are like that any time of year,” said Stringer.
“They are one of the toughest games you’ll play all season and as close to European/International standard as you’re going to get for a club game. Munster and Leinster is always one you put a ring around in the calendar though.
“From an Ireland’s point of view, it’s like a trail game for the international team. You are nearly playing against your direct competition in the fight for the Irish jersey, so it was always a big one.”
The IRFU’s selection policy can see these games left without some it’s star names, but the two-time Champions Cup winner says players from both provinces would love nothing more than to scrap it out with each other.
“When I was playing, you had to put your best foot forward – as if to say ‘this is what we have, we want to see what you have to offer’, said the Munster icon.
I’m sure the guys playing now would love nothing more than to have a good go off each other.
“It’s a great time of year to have these games over the Christmas period, people just want to go and see rugby – and what a game to watch in Munster v Leinster.”
Finally, despite his strong connections to the southern province, Stringer is struggling to see beyond Leinster retaining their Champions Cup crown this campaign.
“At the moment, it’s very hard to look at past Leinster winning the Champions Cup again,” said Stringer.
“They beat the Dragons earlier in the season with basically their third team and put 59 points on them too. Just look at what is coming though for them.
“In terms of their academy, there’s a guy in Max Deegan who was u20 player of the year, captain of Ireland and he can’t even get on the bench!
They have lads at Leinster who are just queuing up to play.
“That’s the standard they set themselves. If you don’t play well, you are going to be rotated and the next fella gets the opportunity, so you can find yourself out of the team. It’s just endless talent coming through there.”