Toulouse star Pita Akhi expects another close clash against Munster

Toulouse center Pita Akhi during a match. Credit: Alamy

Toulouse center Pita Akhi is expecting another close game against Munster when the two teams face off in the Champions Cup this weekend.

The last time Munster hosted the French giants at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, in last season’s quarter-finals, the match was forced into a retirement to determine the winner after even extra time could not separate the teams.

“Sea of ​​Red”

Akhi admits he was surprised by the hordes of fans in red supporting Munster given the game was played in Dublin, saying the atmosphere was “amazing”.

“I didn’t expect a lot of people to show up because it’s obviously in Dublin,” Ahki told The42.

“It was a sea of ​​red, it was amazing.

“You could just hear the crowd throughout the game singing songs. My wife was in the stands for the quarter-final and the semi-final [against Leinster at the same venue a week later] and she said the vibe in the quarter-finals was much more energetic with the songs and stuff like that.

“I could really feel what the Munster team could feel.”

This weekend’s clash will be played in Limerick at Thomond Park, where the center is expecting another large and energetic crowd.

Akhi also expects another close clash and Munster by his side, especially after the heartbreak of last season.

“In Limerick it will be a different beast going there with a full crowd behind them because Munster in Munster is tough,” he said.

“I’ve played Munster three times now and every game is tough, as you saw last season in the quarter-finals. It’s come down to the wire, down to penalties. I think it will be a bit the same.

“Munster will want to put one on us after last season.

“They take this competition very seriously and they will prepare very well.”

Priority to the Champions Cup

The midfielder said Toulouse are a team that value the Champions Cup highly and will look to improve on their efforts from last season, where they lost to Leinster in the semi-finals.

“When we lost last season in the semi-finals, it hurt,” Ahki said. “Leinster is Leinster, they are a great European team, there are a lot of internationals and they know how to play football in the final.

“Toulouse takes this competition seriously, management takes it seriously and we want to put our best foot forward.”

Toulouse have made a wonderful start to the season and sit top of the Top 14 standings. They will be bolstered by talisman Antoine Dupont who is available for selection after successfully appealing his recent suspension.

“We started pretty well,” Ahki said.

“Obviously with the French internationals gone and Ange Capuozzo with Italy, it’s quite difficult trying to get the new suits together and all the young boys coming in to get on the same level.

“I guess it’s the same with any other team that has a lot of internationals.

“We’re looking forward to that block of games and then when the Six Nations arrive we’ll have to pick it up again.”

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