Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander need to up their game for Munster if the Reds are to have any hope of beating Racing 92 in Paris, according to Brian O’Driscoll.
The Leinster legend was speaking to Off The Ball on Friday and felt that Munster’s back-row hasn’t been performing well enough in recent times.
“It’s good on paper but in reality, they’re not firing. Jack O’Donoghue is probably the player of the three at the moment. I think Peter [O’Mahony] and CJ [Stander] have been quiet.
“They were quiet during the World Cup and it was a disappointing performance from the Munster pack in general [against Ulster]. I know CJ wasn’t playing against Ulster, it was Arno Botha I think, but Pete was playing.
“Save for the occasional turnover and stuff, and he’s still obviously good in the lineout, I don’t think it’s the Peter O’Mahony of a couple of years ago,” O’Driscoll commented.
Munster need a win in Paris to keep their Heineken Champions Cup hopes alive, but based on current form, Ireland’s most capped international feels it is unlikely.
“You’ve got to have your best players really standing up and turning up for the most difficult places to go and play on Sunday. Certainly, La Defense (Racing 92’s home stadium) has become that. It’s an amazing place to go.
“I commentated once there - it’s a spectacle. It’s more than rugby. It’s entertainment. It’s going to be fast and frenetic and even though they don’t have an incredible record there, they’re good there.
“Munster will feel that they can beat them but for me, everything is about that first 20 minutes about staying in the game. Because they’re a team that has the capability of scoring two or three tries in seven or eight minutes,” O’Driscoll said.
The back-row isn’t Munster’s only area of weakness at the moment, with the absence of Tadhg Beirne in the second-row also a reason for concern for the southern province.
“I feel as though Jack O’Donoghue’s been the form back-rower but I think they’ve missed Tadhg Beirne.
“While I think Billy Holland’s an incredibly honest player but when it comes to that next level up to play international - and I know he’s got a cap or two - he can’t bridge that gap,” O’Driscoll said.
Munster take on Racing 92 this Sunday at 3.15pm Irish time and will need a win if they want to avoid missing out on a European quarter-final for the first time since 2016.
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