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McLaughlin: Munster don’t scare us

Guinness PRO12 Editor

23 Jan 2012

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has warned Munster his side do not fear anybody as the RaboDirect PRO12 rivals prepare for a Heineken Cup quarter-final battle.

Thomond Park will host the all-Irish last-eight encounter in early April with Munster ranked as number one seeds after their 51-36 dismissal of last season’s runners-up Northampton.

At the opposite end of the seeding scale are Ulster, but after they came within minutes of ending Clermont Auvergne’s long-standing unbeaten home record on Saturday – eventually losing out 19-15 – McLaughlin believes they pose a threat to anyone.

“We don't fear anybody. We are a quality side and we're moving up the ladder in Europe," said McLaughlin.

"Having witnessed the atmosphere in Clermont and now going to Thomond, it is something we're going to relish and look forward to.”

Ulster finished second in Pool 4 despite Ruan Pienaar’s four penalties giving them hope against Clermont with a 12-9 lead, only for Ti'i Paulo's final-quarter try to turn the tie on its head.

Clermont’s better head-to-head record meant they claimed a top-place berth despite the teams being locked on 20 points each.

Munster ousted reigning champions Leinster in the fight for Pool One supremacy to secure a home draw, something McLaughlin feels could be key in deciding the outcome.

"Home advantage in Europe is vital. At Ravenhill last week against Leicester the fans were outstanding,” McLaughlin said.

"They create such an atmosphere that it is a very difficult place for opposing teams to come to play and that is why home advantage is crucial.

"It is fantastic to have three Irish sides in the quarter-finals while Connacht were outstanding in beating Harlequins on Friday night.

"These are very exciting times and it is perfect for the lead-up to the Six Nations."