“This competition is huge for every team” | Gavin Coombes speaks ahead of Northampton showdown

A Cork native, Coombes joined Munster in 2018 and has gone on to make 91 appearances for the province. He has also featured twice for Andy Farrell’s Ireland side.

Gavin Coombes has been speaking ahead of his side’s Champions Cup clash with Northampton this Sunday. The Munster no. 8 spoke on the importance of his position, the threat of their opponents and the illustrious history of European rugby.

The 26-year-old has been named to start Sunday’s game, as he keeps up his record of starting every game so far this season.

Northampton sit top of the Premiership table, with ten wins from their 14 outings this season, losing just four games. Coombes says that Munster are “under no illusions” with what their opponents have to offer.

“For us it’s about focusing on ourselves and getting the aspects of our game right and our game plan right. We know what they bring, they have a very good backline, good set piece, good offloading game. They have a lot of lads that stepped up and played Six Nations, done well and their confidence is very high, they’re top of the Premiership at the moment. We’re under no illusions what they have to offer. Luckily for us we’ve played them a few times and we know what they’re about, it’s refreshing what we’ve spoken about in the past.”

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A Cork native, Coombes joined Munster in 2018 and has gone on to make 91 appearances for the province. He has also featured twice for Andy Farrell’s Ireland side.

While Munster have never won the Investec Champions Cup, they did win the Heineken Cup in 2006 and 2008, finals which were watched by a young Coombes.

In 2000, Munster lost the Heineken Cup final to Northampton.

“I grew up in a huge rugby family, would’ve watched Munster from probably the time I was born. I’m very aware of European rugby as a whole and this competition, the history that teams have, at the end of the day everyone wants to be European champion. You see teams like La Rochelle who want to build their own history, this competition is huge for every team out there.”

25 September 2022; Munster head coach Graham Rowntree during the United Rugby Championship match between Dragons and Munster at Rodney Parade in Newport, Wales. Photo by Ben Evans/Sportsfile

Coombes has been a mainstay in Graham Rowntree’s team this year, starting every single game this season.

He acknowledged the importance of the number 8 jersey he is playing in, saying “it’s always been a big position,” and that he wants to leave the jersey “in a better place” than he got it.

“For Munster throughout history it’s always been a big position (number 8) there’s always been great players there. For me it’s about taking the jersey, we speak about putting it in a better place, that’s where I want to leave it I want to be remembered with the people who have gone before me, that’s another huge motivating factor. Growing up playing eight they were always lads I could look up to, to be wearing it is a dream come true. Just to be wearing it isn’t enough I want to put it in a better place than I got it.”

Northampton are 2/5 favourites for the tie, with Coombes and Munster priced at 2/1. A draw is pencilled in at 19/1.

Sunday’s Investec Champions Cup Round of 16 clash between Munster and Northampton will be shown live on TNT Sports & ITV at 12.30pm.

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