Leinster and Munster should be preparing for European fare, but the impact of Covid-19 means both sides get the chance to renew rivalries at Thomond Park this weekend. 

The provinces shared a similar record in Pro14 action, just one loss from nine games, with Munster top of Conference B, while Leinster trail unbeaten Ulster in Conference A having picked up a bonus point in every game thus far. Crucially, they have two games on Dan McFarland's side that sits five points clear at the top. 

A chance to lower Munster colours in Limerick, even without any home support, is always a motivation for the visitors, but the men in blue are acutely aware that Johann van Graan's side appear to have kicked on from the Pro14 semi-final defeat to their biggest rivals just four months ago.

Similar to Leinster, Munster have won both games in the Champions Cup this term, most recently the memorable win away to Clermont, condemning the French side to just their second European defeat in 33 games at Stade Marcel Michelin. 

Little wonder forwards coach Roby McBride is sensing a bruising encounter against an in-form Munster pack. 

"They are flying high, doing well in Europe. I am sure they are looking forward to welcoming us at home, where they are unbeaten," he told RTÉ Sport. "It’s going to be a big test for us.

"They have a very potent, attacking driving maul, which gives them a lot of territory from penalties.

"They are very strong at scrum time similarly; they will look to use that as a weapon.

"They are a tough outfit, especially up front. They have more to their game, but ultimately it starts with the forwards." 

The last meeting between the sides was at the Aviva Stadium in November, where Leinster saw off an often one-dimensional approach from the visitors in a 13-3 defeat. 

Leo Cullen said afterwards that "all they (Munster) wanted to do was box-kick" and McBride believes there could well be an altered tactical approach. 

"They didn't win that semi-final so they probably will change a little bit, I imagine," he said. 

"It's good to have that variation in your game, isn't it? Just to keep the opposition guessing," he said of the tactical battle. 

We'd be very naive to think they're going to come with the exact same game-plan

"We're going to have to be at our best. We have to be wary a little bit more of the threats that they pose. 

"We'd be very naive to think they're going to come with the exact same game-plan." 

Follow Munster v Leinster (7.35pm Saturday) and Connacht v Ospreys (3pm Sunday) via our live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app or listen to live commentary on RTÉ Radio 1.