Biarritz Olympique centre Damien Traille knows the Munster fans will be a 16th man on Saturday…
Damien Traille accepts that Biarritz Olympique will have to cope not only with the Munster players on the Millennium Stadium pitch but also their fanatical fans off it if European club rugby’s most coveted trophy is to stay in French hands.
But France’s midfield maestro is convinced Biarritz can follow triple champions Toulouse and Brive in carrying off the silverware.
“Munster are a mountain that we have to climb but we have the means to conquer that – although the atmosphere will not be our favour,” said Traille, who scored two of Biarritz’s eight tries in their weekend 57-7 demolition of Montpellier.
“It will probably be pretty hostile but we are ready for about 70,000 Irish supporters shouting for Munster and we have to play what we are given.
“We were lucky enough to play our quarter and semi-finals at Anoeta where the atmosphere was in our favour but we are still hopeful of fervent Basque support and, in any case, the stadium will be a sea of red which obviously won’t faze us!
“What’s more, our away victories against Wasps – and especially at Leicester – have given us the confidence that we can win big matches away from home against anyone. The squad has made a lot of progress and learned a great deal from those matches.
“However, Munster have a really impressive pack with a very strong front row and second row players who work very well together – and Paul O’Connell is an outstanding player.
“They are also extremely strong at half back where Stringer and O’Gara work very smoothly together – and O’Gara’s talents as a kicker cannot be underestimated.
“Then they have a fantastic back line, which combines speed and strength and they have grown in confidence. Last year they were defeated in the quarter-final but this year they have stepped up a gear, especially after their victory against Leinster.
“Having the Top 14 game against Montpellier last Friday with the final on Saturday was, in our sights, ideal. Because the game was moved to the Friday night for once we had a whole weekend of rest. After the game on Friday night, recuperation started on Saturday morning at the club and continued on Sunday.
“Today (Monday) we will be going for a couple of days in camp not far from Biarritz and then on Wednesday morning we will be flying to Cardiff. We spent a lot of time last week on preparing some new ideas and moves in preparation for the game against Munster and we were able to test some of those out against Montpellier.
“The Heineken Cup final is going to be won or lost on the details but we also have to perform better man for man and we have to take advantage of everything – even if we are only gaining centimetres at a time.
“It’s going to be very physical with tempers flaring and no doubt a few scuffles, but that’s the price you pay to win games at this level.
“Munster are a real mountain standing before us so it’s up to us to negotiate the summit and get past the obstacle. We have the means to do that.
“At the start of the season we had a lot of injured players in the squad but now we are nearly back to full strength in training which has given us the opportunity to rest players in the lead-up to this final. Because of this Biarritz Olympique has been able to be competitive in two competitions, the Top 14 and the Heineken Cup.”