Munster hooker Jerry Flannery is desperate to secure a home quarter final in the Heineken Cup, as much for the province’s supporters as for the players themselves.
Munster travel to French side Montauban on Saturday knowing a place in the last eight is already guaranteed, but Flannery admits the reigning European champions are desperate to return to Thomond Park for the knockout stages.
“A home draw in the quarter-finals means so much – it is massive,” Flannery told the Irish Times.
“We went away and won last year, although with the recession on at the moment everyone wants to get a home fixture for the fans.”
Munster continued their defence of their Heineken Cup crown with a crushing win over Sale Sharks last weekend and Flannery says he and his team-mates were delighted to remind the Thomond Park faithful just what they are capable of.
A heavy home defeat to Ulster had been preceded by two narrow European wins over French opposition and Flannery was aware of the need to give the majority of the 26,000 capacity crowd something to really cheer about.
“Beating Sale was all about getting some pride back in playing at Thomond Park,” explained Flannery, a serious contender for the No2 shirt when the Lions face South Africa this summer.
“There has been a lot of emphasis put on the change of Thomond Park since it was redeveloped. But Thomond Park has been built on the performances of the Munster players.
“There hasn’t been much change in the way the supporters back us, nor in the actual building. If anyone has been questioned it has been the players. We knew our performance against Ulster was completely unacceptable.
“We are all very much aware this is only the first step and there is still another pool match to go. The job isn’t done yet.”