Christmas is approaching and with that means it’s the season for crucial back-to-back Champions Cup fixtures.
Munster will face the Leicester Tigers this weekend at Thomond Park before travelling to Welford Road a week later for the return fixture.
Of course, these sides are no strangers to one another. The Tigers are the only side to beat Munster at Thomond Park twice in European competition and these sides faced off one another at the same stage last year where Munster won at home but lost to the Tigers at Welford Road.
The Tigers are performing much better this season, despite their two recent losses against the Worcester Warriors and Wasps in the Aviva Premiership and this is something that Conor Murray outlines when he spoke to Pundit Arena this afternoon.
“Leicester this year, especially with George Ford, Jonny May who’s going really well and [Telusa] Veainu who’s a real threat. They’re definitely a better team than they were last year and they were a good team last year.”
There are numerous potential mouth-watering matchups which are likely to take place over the next two weekends but one of the main ones which stand out will be Ireland’s and England’s first-choice scrum-halves going toe-to-toe with one another.
Murray would have been battling it out with Ben Youngs on the Lions tour for the starting Test jersey if it wasn’t for Youngs’ withdrawal from the squad due to family circumstances.
“Yeah, I like playing against Ben, I know him quite well…great fella. We’ve massive respect for each other. It was a genuine pity that he couldn’t travel in the summer [Lions Tour] for family reasons. During the Six Nations and in the November just gone…he’s playing well all year and he’s continued that.
“I think that brings the best out of each player, you know? Coming up against players you meet on the international stage who you want to rate yourself against and see how you go. I’m sure it’s the same for him and I’m sure it’s the same for Keats [Ian Keatley] against George Ford.”
As the 28-year-old Patrickswell native alludes to, there are going to be some serious matchups all over the field on Saturday and it will likely be one of the ties of the round.
You can watch Conor Murray’s interview with Pundit Arena below: