Munster Rugby full-back Mike Haley is excited for his side’s trip to cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens to face Northampton Saints in Round 2 of the Heineken Champions Cup on Sunday.
The former Sale Sharks man has enjoyed his past experiences travelling to Northampton, with the atmosphere and raucous support for the team a standout memory.
Despite Northampton’s heavy opening round defeat at Stade Rochelais, Haley warned that the Gallagher Premiership outfit will be no pushovers.
“They’re always a very good attacking side and they have been for the last number of years,” he stated.
“Going to Franklin’s Gardens, it’s just a great place to go and play rugby. They’ve got a good crowd that gets behind the team and to be honest it’s more excitement from a personal point of view.
Comeback o'clock ⏰ @JohnnySexton returns to the bench for @leinsterrugby, while @JakePolledri is back for @gloucesterrugby 😍 @madoshtambwe returns for @UBBrugby and @AmLukhanyo is back on @SharksRugby's bench 🔥#HeinekenChampionsCup team news ➡️ https://t.co/TAY8skUcGV pic.twitter.com/q3acalHdq6
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 15, 2022
“It’ll be great just get out there and it’s such a nice field to play so it’s ideal to play some good rugby and score some good tries, hopefully.”
Munster defence coach Denis Leamy is equally wary of the threat Northampton will pose, particularly with their big ball-carriers, though he is confident the Irish province are well positioned to bounce back from their Round 1 loss to Stade Toulousain.
“We’ve had a good chat around things that we need to improve on, in terms of how we defend from all phases and obviously the threat Northampton are going to bring,” he said.
“They’re a side that obviously had a tough weekend [at La Rochelle] but they’ve got a lot of quality in their team and they’re the best in terms of gainline attack in the Premiership at the moment.
“So, they’re going to present challenges in many ways. It is a battle of the gainline in terms of who’s going to win it, pure and simple.
“We have to be very good in our contacts. Obviously, we have to set ourselves up well to be good in the tackle, to be good in our two-man shots and to apply pressure around the breakdown in a constructive manner.”