Updated: Wednesday, 02 April 2014 18:12 | By Agence France-Presse

Beating Toulouse a 'mammoth' task - Munster's O'Connell

Munster face a "mammoth task" to beat French giants Toulouse in Saturday's European Cup quarter-final clash, according to the Irish province's captain Paul O'Connell.


Beating Toulouse a 'mammoth' task - Munster's O'Connell

Munster's Paul O'Connel plays during the European Cup rugby union quarter-final match between Harlequins and Munster at Twickenham Stoop stadium, southwest of London, on April 7, 2013 - by Olly Greenwood

O'Connell hailed the former four-time European champions for having "class across the park", but backed his Munster side to bounce back from a 22-18 loss to Irish rivals Leinster in the Celtic League last weekend.

Munster are themselves former two-time winners of the continent's leading club rugby competition, but it will be the first time Toulouse travel to Limerick to play.

"It's amazing that it's the first time they've come here," O'Connell said. "They've been to plenty of hostile grounds in the past so I don't think it will be any big deal for them.

"It probably makes it a brilliant occasion for Munster and the Munster supporters, for the Heineken Cup itself, to have Munster and Toulouse playing a game in Thomond Park in Limerick is a massive occasion."

But O'Connell, capped 92 times by Ireland and seven times by the British and Irish Lions, predicted a tough run-out against a team that sits in seventh in the Top 14.

"If you look at Toulouse, the quality of player they have, the size of the men they have, it's an absolutely mammoth task for us," the 34-year-old lock said.

"It's great to be at home but it's an incredible team with incredible players and incredible talent, it's just a massive uphill task for us.

"They've so many flair players who can play off the cuff. They play an incredible off-loading game. As weather gets drier and pitches get harder, that will suit them."

O'Connell put Munster's loss to Leinster down to a "really poor performance" that showed up a lack of accuracy and execution.

"Against teams like Leinster, when you get the ball, you need to keep it and make it count," he said.

"I don't think we've played particularly well in a long time.

"I find it hard to put my hands on any big performances from us in recent months."

An additional problem was Toulouse's unpredictability and talent throughout the side.

"They've got big men, incredibly skilful men, there's talent all over the pitch," he said.

"There are certain teams you can analyse and you can plan to try and stop what they're going to do.

"With Toulouse, the way they play and the style of rugby they have makes it very hard to predict what they're going to do and plan for that and that makes it very difficult.

"They struggle at times, but I think they're in some ways a little bit like the French team, they have class across the park.

"And on the really big days, I think they're probably one of the best, if not the best, teams in the competition.

"Maybe that's because in Munster and Ireland we've such an affinity with the Heineken Cup and we're so used to watching Toulouse and their incredible style of rugby."

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