Ronan O’Gara believes that Munster have a 50-50 chance of securing a result against Saracens this weekend, as the home side have “niggling self-doubts” that could help his former side.
Munster go into the game on Saturday (1pm) as underdogs in this must-win Champions Cup encounter, with odds of 2-1 being offered on Anthony Foley's side securing the victory.
However, speaking to RTÉ Sport, O’Gara made it clear that he thought the game would be closer than that, and said that if Munster can maintain a high level of accuracy, they will be in with a shout.
“I really don’t think Saracens are where they were at the start of the season,” O’Gara said. “I think there are niggling self-doubts creeping into them. I call it a 50-50 game.”
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Asked whether Munster could feed off a perception that they are unlikely to get the crucial win at Allianz Park, O’Gara insisted that the players would not be affected by outside perceptions.
“When you’re one of those 23 players or 30 players, or you’re the management, you operate very differently to how the public operate ... you’re essentially inside in a bubble, and you live your life by what happens on the Saturday.
“Everything is planned to perform on the 80 minutes on Saturday afternoon.
"There’ll be rumours floating around the place – ‘Did you hear what this fella said about us? ‘Did you hear what this fella said about it?’ – but after a few years you get used to that, and that’s part of the job.
“The people with experience will be driving the whole week.”
O’Gara indicated that this game would have been identified as a do-or-die encounter from the time the Champions Cup fixtures were announced and that “this is the one they’ll be really prepped for, so I expect a big performance.”
O’Gara said that Munster had to try to target Saracens out-half Owen Farrell in the hope that he would lose his cool. Farrell has been known to lose his temper and go off his game when targeted by opposition sides.
“What you’re hoping for is no reaction, no reaction, no reaction, snap, you know. And I was good at that myself!
“The key is to keep prodding, keep prodding, keep chipping, keep chipping, and then – you know, the amount of times I’ve been told to smile and smile, and keep smiling, and smile, stick out your tongue, but after a while you just can’t, you know. It just gets to you.
“You have to do that – that’s the battle of minds.”
Saracens’ 10-12-13 combination was not as creative as other sides in the Premiership, O’Gara said.
“If Munster are accurate I think they have a great chance.”
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