Munster Rugby head coach Johann van Graan is looking forward to adding to the Irish province’s “incredible history” in the Heineken Champions Cup.
He has enjoyed an excellent start to his first full European season with Munster, guiding them to the top of Pool 2 with seven points after a 10-10 draw at Exeter Chiefs and a 36-22 home win over Gloucester Rugby in the first two rounds last month, but he wants more.
Speaking at the Heineken Champions Cup launch in Dublin, Van Graan said: “It doesn’t matter which game you’re playing. Munster has got an incredible history with the Heineken Champions Cup and the expectation is to go one better, but for us as a side, you’ve got to start on zero.
“It’s a whole new year, four different teams in the pool. I know we had Castres last year, but since that [match] they have become the French champions.”
Van Graan took over from current South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus last November and led Munster to the Champions Cup semi-finals, where they were beaten 27-22 by Racing 92 in Bordeaux.
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) November 20, 2018
The former South Africa forwards coach said that it would be “a privilege” to reach the final at St James’ Park in Newcastle next year, having visited the city during the 2015 World Cup.
“I’ve actually [been] involved in a Test match there in the World Cup,” he said. “We played against Scotland, what a fantastic day. I remember it very fondly.
“A lot of Scots came across that border and that vibe when you walked out of that main pavilion and looked up, it was frightening.
“[It’s] a fantastic city. People really enjoy their sport there and if we were lucky enough to get there – and a lot of things need to go right before we get there – it would be a fantastic privilege.
“I can’t stress enough the quality of this competition. There are a lot of sides that can challenge for the trophy.”