O'Toole ready for 'huge battle' against Munster

Tom O'Toole carries the ball against the Sharks
Tom O'Toole has played in 10 of Ulster's URC games this season [Inpho]

Ulster prop Tom O'Toole says the breakdown will be crucial in Saturday's interprovincial showdown with United Rugby Championship [URC] leaders Munster in Limerick.

Munster are also defending champions while sixth-placed Ulster go into the final game of the regular URC season at Thomond Park having already sealed a play-off spot.

Ulster have won their last four games, including a home victory over Leinster last time out, but sit 10 points behind a Munster side boasting an eight-match winning streak in the league.

"Munster's back row is full of athletes and their pack, across the board, are good poachers but we thought we improved at the breakdown against Leinster so we're just hoping to to improve on that," said Ireland international O'Toole.

"The breakdown is going to be a huge battle - going to Thomond you don't want to be giving a lot of breakdown penalties away and giving away your own ball."

Ulster have still to secure a place in next year's Champions Cup - a top seven spot in the URC will suffice unless the team that finishes eighth were to ultimately win the competition, then only the top six would qualify.

Ulster occupy that sixth position and are four points ahead of Edinburgh, Benetton and the Lions.

It is a second meeting of the season between the Irish rivals, with Ulster earning a 21-14 win over Munster last November.

Ulster also clinched a first victory over Munster at Thomond Park since 2014 on their last visit in October 2022.

"It's a tough place to go - we've had some big defeats there and some pretty close ones as well," added O'Toole.

"They pride themselves there as much as we pride ourselves here at Kingspan. I've massive respect for Munster - they've inspired other teams with how they finished last year and how they've played this year."

So two teams in top form and Ulster will face a newlook Munster, according to O'Toole.

"Confidence is pretty high. We had a break last week so we're feeling fresh and ready to go, but Munster will be the same. I've no doubt it will be an interesting fixture.

"Munster have changed a lot in their style of play, they play a bit more expansive now and their forwards can play ball. Going to Thomond Park is going to be a huge challenge."