Ulster’s Tom O’Toole hoping for a rare away win in Munster

The sides meet in the last game of the regular URC season, with both already guaranteed a place in the play-offs

Tom O'Toole
Tom O’Toole hasn't had the best of experiences at Thomond Park in his Ulster career

ULSTER have beaten Munster once in the last decade at Thomond Park, while prop Tom O’Toole has never experienced victory in Limerick.

The sides meet thisi weekend in the last game of the regular season and O’Toole knows how difficult it is will be for Ulster to extend their four-game winning streak against the current defending URC champions and league leaders.

“It has been pretty difficult, looking back on my career I have had some pretty big defeats there and some pretty close games as well, I think we had a draw,” said O’Toole.

“It is a pretty tough place to go. They pride themselves there as we kind of pride ourselves here at Kingspan.

“I have massive respect for Munster, I think they kind of inspired a lot of teams from last year on how they finished up and how they have been playing this year they have eight wins on the bounce now.

“They have changed a bit in their style of play, they play a bit more expansive now and they have forwards like Tadgh Beirne and guys that can play ball.

“It is not going to be an easy place to go and play but an exciting fixture, the last round of the regular season.”

O’Toole wants Ulster to kick on from beating Leinster in their last outing.

“We have obviously taken confidence from that Leinster game, but in fairness some of the performances before that weren’t as good as we wanted them to be but hopefully now we have shown signs of some of the work we have done with Richie (Murphy) since he has come in.

“We talked during the week about that Leinster performance being a baseline of what we expect from ourselves as a group.

“Previously, we have had good performances and then dropped off within the week or the week after, so it is about building that consistency and that is what Richie expects from us.

“To go away to Thomond Park is a huge challenge to see where we are at, and we really hope to back that up before going into the play-offs.

“Previously we haven’t peaked at the backend of the season.

“We probably peaked start to mid then we would have dropped off near the backend unfortunately in some of our years, but it feels that since Richie came in it took him a few weeks to build what he kind of wanted but hopefully we can peak near the back end.”

O’Toole believes that whichever team gets scrum dominance could decide the game.

“We had a look at it during this week in particular, and speaking to a few of the guys down in Irish camp, Jermey Loughman and such, having Oli Jager that came in for them obviously played most of his rugby in New Zealand with the Crusaders.

“I think with him (Jager) compared to John Ryan and Stephen Archer there are a few differences in terms of tighthead, he is quite square and has that New Zealand way of scrummaging but is very talented and is a very good scrummager in his own right, whereas John Ryan will have a go on the angle a wee bit more.”

“I think it is just different from individual to individual, as a collective watching them the last few games especially when they went over and tested themselves in South Africa they did really well.

“They have got a big pack, (RG) Snyman in their behind the props and the front row he’s not a bad person to have in terms of size, I’m sure it is somewhere that they will try to have a crack this week and I’m sure whoever we are facing we’ll be able to rise to the challenge.”