Michael Bradley has hailed Munster's achievement after they were crowned European champions for a second time in three seasons.
The Ireland coach will be without a considerable Munster contingent for tonight’s appointment with the Barbarians at Kingsholm. They do not link up with Bradley’s New Zealand-bound tour squad until later this week.
But Bradley, coach for Tests against the All Blacks and Australia next month before Munster boss Declan Kidney moves into the Ireland hot-seat, has joined captain Brian O’Driscoll in acclaiming their latest European Cup triumph.
Munster were criticised in some quarters for the style of play they adopted in closing out Millennium Stadium opponents Toulouse last Saturday.
But Bradley said: “Munster are European Champions in a competition that is nine matches long.
“They played plenty of good rugby over the nine games, but their objective last weekend was to win the game, and I can see that style working at international level in order to close a game out.
“They came through an extremely hard group where all four teams could have graced the semi-finals of the competition.
“They have given a huge amount to Irish rugby, and that is what we must remember.”
And O’Driscoll added: “I think it’s a little bit harsh to criticise Munster’s style of play.
“They were in a final, and it doesn’t matter how you play in a final. You can play the most unattractive rugby imaginable – it makes no odds because it is about winning.
“They recycled the ball and killed the clock, and I applaud them for it. It typifies the sort of side they are. They are a thinking side.”
O’Driscoll leads an Irish XV tonight drawn largely from Leinster and Ulster, with most interest surrounding his new centre partnership alongside the highly-rated Luke Fitzgerald.
While Bradley can call on the experience of players like O’Driscoll, wing Shane Horgan and lock Malcolm O’Kelly, there is also an opportunity for players who will spearhead Ireland A’s Churchill Cup challenge in the USA and Canada next month.
Teams for Ireland versus the Barbarians, Kingsholm, May 27:
R Kearney (Leinster); S Horgan (Leinster), B O’Driscoll (Leinster, capt), L Fitzgerald (Leinster), T Bowe (Ulster); P Wallace (Ulster), I Boss (Ulster); B Young (Ulster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Harlequins), B Casey (London Irish), M O’Kelly (Leinster), S Ferris (Ulster), S Jennings (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster).
B Jackman (Leinster), T Court (Ulster), R Caldwell (Ulster), N Best (Ulster), F Murphy (Leicester), J Sexton (Leinster), G Dempsey (Leinster).
P Hewat; S Anesi, M Turinui (capt), J Pretorius, L Vainikolo; S Larkham, M Claassens; O le Roux, S Bruno, C Visagie, K Chesney, R Skeate, C Newby, D Croft, P Wannenburg.
M Regan, P Collazo, S Dellape, M Chapman or J Collins, A Gomarsall, G Jackson, T Smith or S Mapusua.