French star Damien Traille has predicted a bruising tussle when Biarritz and Munster go head-to-head in Saturday’s European Cup final at the Millennium Stadium.
Biarritz, the reigning French champions, are contesting their first European final, while Munster hope to make it third time lucky following painful defeats against Northampton in 2000 and Leicester two years later.
Both previous European Cup meetings between the sides were quarter-final encounters, with Munster toppling Biarritz 38-29 in 2001 and the French club avenging that result through a 19-10 success in San Sebastian last season.
Munster’s rich tournament pedigree – and travelling support that will see their fans considerably outnumber an anticipated 4,000-strong Biarritz contingent – make them slight favourites,
But Biarritz, despite scoring only one try in disposing of Sale Sharks and Bath during the knockout stages, have enough quality to pile fresh misery on a team desperate for European success.
"It is going to be very physical, with tempers flaring and no doubt a few scuffles, but that is the price you pay to win games at this level," said Biarritz and France centre Traille.
"Munster are a real mountain standing before us, so it is up to us to negotiate the summit and get past the obstacle. We have the means to do that.
"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."
Biarritz are set to welcome back captain Thomas Lievremont after injury ruled him out of the semi-final triumph against Bath in San Sebastian last month, and hooker Benoit August is also available following an administrative bungle by tournament organisers.
August was cited for an alleged dangerous tackle and making contact with Bath lock Danny Grewcock’s eye during the semi-final, but tournament rules state the citing commissioner and match referee must be from different countries.
Referee Alain Rolland and commissioner John West are both Irish, so any citing complaint against August could not go ahead.
Biarritz, who arrived to continue their preparations in Cardiff on Wednesday, include Lievremont and August among a 24-man squad also featuring the likes of Traille and his French international colleagues Serge Betsen, Jerome Thion, Imanol Harinordoquy and Dimitri Yachvili.
"It will probably be pretty hostile on Saturday, but we are ready for about 70,000 Irish supporters shouting for Munster and we have to play what we are given," added Traille.
"We were lucky enough to play our quarter-final and semi-final at Estadio Anoeta (in San Sebastian), where the atmosphere was in our favour, but we are still hopeful of fervent Basque support this weekend.
"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 gave us the opportunity to rest players in the lead-up to this final."