Munster will have a "big target" on their backs at the Aviva Stadium, admits Jeremy Loughman.

The Reds prop loved his time with Ireland during the summer and at France 2023 but knows that there will be a freeze in relations on Saturday night against a Leinster side out to make a statement.

"Yeah, 100%," said Loughman. "We'll have a big target on our back and they'll be looking for revenge up there, I know they all will be.

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"It's massively exciting. It will be a proper match - a proper rivalry match - so I'm really looking forward to that. They'll definitely be coming for us but we'll be looking forward to it."

Leinster have plenty of fuel to work off this week after their hopes of a home final in the URC were blown up by Jack Crowley's late drop goal to win the semi-final at the Aviva in May.

For Munster, it was further confirmation that things were clicking under the new management that took charge at the start of last season, one of a series of superb away wins that secured silverware for the first time in a dozen years.

"Yeah definitely, it was kind of one of those wins we needed to get, a monkey off the back," Loughman recalled. "It just showed everyone how we were moving forward as a team.

"And in terms of that rivalry, pushing ourselves as a better team and challenging for those big games, that we're turning up - and not just a semi-final team.

"So it was massive, a morale boost for everyone to see that when we do our work right that we can achieve what we're aiming for."

Saturday, of course, doesn't have the same high stakes at play as the sides reach the one third mark in the regular season.

However there are still 45,000 spectators expected on Lansdowne Road - as, no doubt, Thomond Park will be crammed for the next meeting of the sides just after Christmas.

Ireland’s Jeremy Loughman on the charge against Romania in the France 2023 opener in Bordeaux
Ireland’s Jeremy Loughman on the charge against Romania in the France 2023 opener in Bordeaux

Loughman, 28, believes those figures underline how important the rivalry remains.

"It has a special feel, the week, you can feel coming in that everyone's on edge, it's a bit different," he said.

"Everyone's at each other, making sure we're all perfect, we're really pushing ourselves and they're the weeks that you really look forward to, the big weeks, the big crowds, there's going to be 45,000 people there so it will be a full house and the atmosphere will be class.

"So really looking forward to it, they're special games and they're the ones you want to play in, especially when you grow up watching them.

"To be involved in them is class.

"I'm not sure what the weather will be like but it will be fast paced and extremely physical, having worked with those lads I know what they'll be looking to do.

"I don't expect anything less - and that's what we're aiming to bring as well."


Oli Jaeger won't be involved this weekend for Munster but is primed for Champions Cup action after his big move from Crusaders.

And it's some coincidence that a decade on from winning a Leinster Senior Cup together at Blackrock that multiple Super Rugby title winner Jager and Loughman could play in Europe together.

Oli Jager of the Crusaders runs with the ball against Jeremy Williams of the Western Force during the round 11 Super Rugby Pacific match last May
Oli Jager of the Crusaders runs with the ball against Jeremy Williams of the Western Force during the round 11 Super Rugby Pacific match last May

"When I was in fifth year, I was loosehead and he was tighthead and he was in sixth year then," said Loughman. "We had one year together."

They have stayed in touch and met up during Ireland's tour in New Zealand last year, but Loughman insists he only heard the news of the Irish qualified prop's arrival when everyone else at the club did.

"I'm looking forward to him coming over, I would have got on with him very well in school and we kept in touch over the years, so it will be good," he said.

"It's a crazy record he has, isn't it, I think he's won every year that's been available for him to win that he's been there.

"It's massive having someone coming in who has been in such a high performance environment for so long now and it's incredible just to pick their brains on what's different.

"It's a new viewpoint on things as well with that experience, so it will be nice to see how someone else does it because he's coming from such a successful environment. It will be really nice to see if he has any different points on things.

"I wouldn't watch too much Super Rugby, to be honest. But I've seen some of his games, finals and that. He's obviously a big man, a big presence there. I remember that from school, he was like a man among boys at that stage.

"He has a big set piece focus as well so it will be interesting to get him over and see how he settles in and what differences he sees."

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