Munster head coach Johann van Graan believes that a successful Pro14 inter-provincial series is perfect preparation for crunch back-to-back European clashes.

Munster won two games out of three, beating Leinster and Connacht, and picked up a losing bonus point on the road against Ulster to move them to the top of Conference A.

This sets them up nicely for Friday night’s Heineken Champions Cup get-together with Gloucester in Kingsholm, with Exeter to follow in the final round of Pool 2 Games.

Van Graan’s side currently lead the pool from Castres, but only four points separate top from bottom so everything is still to be decided.

"Obviously the three inter-pros were going to be very important for us this season, to firstly beat Leinster, get that losing bonus point against Ulster and to get five points against Connacht – we’ll take that," said the South African, speaking to RTÉ Sport.

"Now it’s into Europe for two fascinating weeks against Gloucester and Exeter.

"It was a real physical game (against Connacht) and there are one or two injury worries, but we’ll take our time and assess.

"We also need to give guys game-time ahead of a huge game and I thought we managed our squad very well over the last few weeks. We’ll see who’s fit on Monday and plan accordingly.

"It will be a massive battle, there’s huge history between the two teams, it’s a battle that we’re really looking forward to and that’s why you play European rugby – for massive nights like that."

Munster were impressive as they beat Connacht 31-24 at the Sportsground on Saturday night, edging a thrilling game which featured seven tries.

Munster out-half Joey Carbery was man of the match against Connacht

"Before the game we knew this would be a real tough one," he said. "We started well and then we conceded that try from a turnover from a rip. To come back from that to score two fantastic tries, we were in a really good spot.

"We conceded that penalty just before half-time and the try straight after and I though Connacht put us under pressure. Our bench did really well and that’s why we picked a strong bench – it was a 23-man effort.

"I thought our set-piece did pretty well, I thought our maul did pretty well and I thought we had some good attack, particularly in the opposition 22.

The Munster head coach arrives in Galway

"We spoke about finishing our opportunities and we came to Galway and scored four tries against a quality Connacht side, which isn’t something a lot of teams have done this season."

Munster actually crossed the line on five occasions, though John Ryan’s first half effort was ruled out by the Television Match Official.

When they went 31-17 up mid-way through the second half they looked home and hosed, but Connacht roared back into the game thanks to a Jack Carty try to ensure an exciting finish.

"It’s something we try to replicate in training, putting ourselves under pressure, and it’s great to see the guys responding in those positions on the field," said Van Graan.

"Mentally we did really well in this game, as well as last week."