Munster Rugby back-row forward Peter O’Mahony has admitted he has been impressed with Gloucester Rugby this season ahead of their Heineken Champions Cup Pool 2 clash at Thomond Park on Saturday. 

The Irish province drew their opening Heineken Champions Cup match against Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park last weekend, leaving them behind Gloucester, who defeated TOP 14 champions Castres Olympique 19-14. 

That victory followed the 2018 Challenge Cup finalists’ upturn in domestic form, as they currently sit fourth in the Gallagher Premiership behind Saracens, Wasps and Pool 2 opponents Exeter Chiefs. 

Speaking at last month’s Heineken Champions Cup launch in Dublin, O’Mahony said: “I’ve been very impressed. Obviously, they’ve signed very well over the summer period; Danny Cipriani, at outside-half, I think is playing incredibly well for them. His standard of rugby has been second-to-none really. I think their style of play is very impressive as well.” 

However, O’Mahony pointed out his side’s stellar record in the tournament – they won it in 2006 and 2008 – as well as highlighting how tough it can be to reach the knockout stages of Europe’s elite club competition. 

“We have a fond history with the competition, but that’s a few years ago now,” O’Mahony added. 

“Our fans, everybody who follows the club, everyone involved with the club really enjoy getting back into it, but there’s a huge expectation that goes alongside that, not just from fans, friends and family, but from us as well.  

“It certainly isn’t something to be taken for granted that you automatically get through your pools. It’s just such an incredibly difficult competition now to get out of your pool and it certainly won’t be any different this year.” 

Munster head coach Johann van Grann – who led his side to a Champions Cup semi-final last year in his first European campaign with the Irish province – praised Gloucester head coach and fellow South African Johan Ackermann. 

“I know Johan pretty well – [he’s a] fantastic coach, a fantastic man,” said the 38-year-old. “I think he’s done really well in his small time there at Gloucester. They’ve made quite a few signings and have got a pretty well-renowned side out there now. 

“They’re playing some fantastic attacking football. They also look like a team that wants to challenge, so this pool will be huge.”