Johann van Graan knows he could do with overseeing a Munster victory over Leinster this weekend. 

The men in red welcome their provincial rivals to Thomond Park on Saturday (kick-off 7.35pm) in the space vacated by the pausing of European competition, and the home side are desperately trying to close the gap to the Guinness Pro14 holders and 2019 European champions. 

The South African knows that victory isn't essential in terms of tournament standings; Munster top Conference B with eight wins from nine, the same record as Leinster in Conference B. 

And it’s not as if Munster’s season as a whole needs a lift. They will have taken solace in avoiding defeat last time out when Connacht were on the brink of a comeback victory, while in Europe, things couldn’t be better. 

The Champions Cup record shows two wins from two, including a sensational win away to Clermont, condemning the French side to just their second European defeat in 33 games at Stade Marcel Michelin. 

The motivation for Munster, and in particular Van Graan, lies in the recent head-to-head record with Leinster. 

Since arriving in the head coach role, the 40-year-old has plotted the downfall of Leo Cullen’s side on eight occasions, yet has only successfully managed the feat on one occasion, a tempestuous 26-17 win at Thomond park in December 2018, perhaps best remembered for James Lowe’s dismissal for a high tackle on Andrew Conway. 

The last time they faced off was the Pro14 semi-final last September, where a blunt Munster attack failed to make any inroads in a 13-3 defeat at the Aviva Stadium. 

Van Graan believes his team have developed nicely in just four months. 

"It’s nice to play at home," he told RTÉ Sport. "We’ve got some good momentum. 

"We are four or five months down the line in terms of our development and in terms of playing time together. We’ve gone through a series of games where we had to win in different ways. 

"If you look through our season, some games we won convincingly, some we were down and out, some games were won in the 83rd or 84th minutes. It’s a new game, we believe we can win every game we play." 

The most recent outing of the fixture saw Munster resort to a series of box-kicking from Conor Murray, but it failed to make any impression against the Leinster defence, who in the end comfortably advanced to the Pro14 decider. 

Leo Cullen stated afterwards that Munster’s approach on the day was predictable, but Van Graan has shrugged off such criticisms, suggesting that they have adopted a similar strategy in recent weeks. 

"I think you take every game and you do what’s necessary to win," he said. 

"I’m glad that in the Ulster game two weeks ago, at least they (Leinster) used some of our tactics in that game as well, so that’s brilliant to see." 

Closer to home, Munster appear likely to have Dave Kilcoyne, Jack O’Donoghue, Mike Haley, Jean Kleyn fit again after recent injury issues.

All four have trained this week and are expected to be available for selection. 

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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.