Saturday should prove to be an emotional occasion for Simon Zebo and Donnacha Ryan as they return to Thomond Park for the first time since leaving Munster.
Former Ireland international Mike McCarthy was on Thursday’s OTB AM and touched on the significance of the occasion for the two former Munster men.
“Simon Zebo and Donnacha Ryan will be absolutely buzzing to go back to Thomond Park.
“I know Donnacha has played with Racing twice [against Munster] but he’s not been back to Limerick since he’s been with Racing. They’ll be hugely excited,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy has plenty of experience of playing against former clubs, with the London-born lock playing his former side Connacht with Leinster on a number of occasions.
“When you go back to an old former club, mentally and physically you lift your game a bit more. You want to show what a big loss you were to that club,” McCarthy commented.
Racing 92 could have an edge over Munster thanks to Ryan and Zebo’s inside knowledge of their opponents, with McCarthy predicting his fellow lock could be a particular nuisance.
“Donnacha Ryan’s a clever player. He runs the lineout. He’ll have great insight into how [Jean] Kleyn and [Billy] Holland and the like work in the lineout, what they’ll do in defence and what they’re looking to do in attack.
“He’ll no doubt come up with a plan. Having that insight and knowing what they’re looking to do - it could be a plan that will hugely disrupt Munster,” McCarthy said.
Munster have been more consistent than Racing in the early stages of the season, with Racing currently 10th in the Top 14.
The Parisians were impressive in the 30-10 win in their 30-10 win over an admittedly weakened Saracens side, but Munster were equally adept against Ospreys.
“There was a big win for Racing over Sarries but we know Sarries were depleted with a lot of players [rested]. Racing aren’t going particularly well in the French league.
“Munster played against an Ospreys team who have been very poor this season but Ospreys certainly lifted their game against Munster.
“It was great to see Munster get the bonus-point in that 85th minute. They’ve shown that grit, fight and determination that we all know with Munster,” McCarthy said.
Munster take on Racing 92 at Thomond Park at 5.30pm on Saturday, with both sides looking to make it two wins from two in the Champions Cup.