Jean de Villiers says Vodacom United Rugby Championship finalists Munster will take plenty of confidence from their historic away win against the DHL Stormers in Cape Town.
Having embarked on an incredible run of four unbeaten away games, including ending the DHL Stormers’ long winning run in Cape Town, Munster are going into Saturday’s grand final riding a wave of optimism.
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Former Stormers captain De Villiers, who spent a season with Munster in 2009, backed the Irish side as the in-form team going into the season’s grand finale.
“I’ve never gone into a game the way that I feel this time around, where I think it’s a win-win for me. Even though I spent most of my career playing for the Stormers, the season I had with Munster was one that I rate very high in terms of my career. I really do have a passion for Munster,” de Villiers said during a Vodacom URC media call this week ahead of Saturday’s final.
“They have actually been the form team for me, towards the end of the URC.
“If you look at the way that they got absolutely blown off the park in Durban in the Heineken Cup game, then they came back to South Africa. They beat the Stormers in Cape Town, they drew with the Sharks in Durban and obviously beat Glasgow and Leinster in the quarter and semi-final.
“So, they have been on a run where I think from a mental point of view, they are in a place where they must feel extremely strong and extremely positive.
“And that is worth gold. If you’re going into a final, away from home, but you have proven in the last couple of weeks that you can do it.
“There is a difference between thinking you can win a game and knowing you can win a game because you have done it before on different territory.
“And I think that is the attitude Munster will have going into this game. The fact that they have all of those players back is great.
“So, I think Munster have got so much going for them and the fact that they have done it before here in South Africa will give them massive, massive confidence going into this game.”
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De Villiers was part of the Springbok squad that won the World Cup in 2007 and helped South Africa win the Tri-Nations in 2009. However, he did not have the same success with the Stormers, as they fell short in the Super Rugby semi-finals in 2011 and 2012.
Still, the former inside centre and Springbok captain gave his advice on what Munster need to do to end their own trophy drought, which has lasted 12 years.
“In my case it kind of continued with coming up short playing for Western Province and the Stormers so I’m probably the wrong person to ask!” de Villiers said
“I suppose like anything in life, you need to analyse the situation, you need to prepare well and then you need to execute well. So yes, there will be emotion in all of this and sometimes you can be caught in the emotion in that you’ve been there so many times before.
“You haven’t been able to get it over the line and then you start thinking about that and why then? Why didn’t it happen for me? And you get emotional about it.
“Unfortunately emotion doesn’t win you anything. Emotion will play a part on the weekend and get you fired up but it’s about the execution on the day, that’s the important thing.
“The one element is the preparation and being able to analyse the opposition and the way you’ve been playing and then formulating a game plan but even more important is the execution on the day.
“You need to be up for it, you need to be at your very best and if you do that then you’ve got a massive shot to be able to win it.”
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