Jonathan Davies: The genius that Biarritz have kept hidden makes me fear for the Irishmen

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The Independent Online

Cardiff will be a mad place next weekend. The Munster multitudes will be over in full strength and you can forget the idea that the Millennium Stadium will be in any way a neutral venue for the Heineken Cup final.

Biarritz will bring their share of fans but Munster will not only have Irish backing - to most rugby supporters Munster are their second favourite team next to the one they support every week. They are an amazing side with an excellent record and it is difficult not to warm to them.

But although everything seems to be geared up for a Munster win I am wary of Biarritz. I believe they have the ability to step up their game to a level we have yet to see at its full force.

Mostly, they have played boring rugby on their way to the final. The French side have relied heavily on the totally negative tactic of efficient kicking and letting their powerful pack do all the work. But they have a back line with an attacking potential yet to be fully utilised and with Damien Traille and Dimitri Yachvili at their hub you can't take the threat lightly.

In rugby league they have a saying that your forwards can get to a Challenge Cup final but it will take your backs to win it.

Munster are no strangers themselves to the policy of getting a stranglehold up front before letting the backs loose when the time is right. Their semi-final victory against the pre-game favourites Leinster was a testimony to the strength of their style.

They have something else, too - a team ethic that seems unshakeable. They have played together, fought together and drunk together for so long they have developed a special bond. That bond, and an insatiable appetite for victory, sends them into any game with an outstanding chance.

That is why they win games you do not expect them to win. If you could bottle the quality they take into action every rugby team in the world would want to buy some.

Why, then, do I feel slightly uneasy about their chances when everything points to more Munster joy? Because they have no mystery. What you see is what you get and players like Ronan O'Gara, Paul O'Connell and Gerry Flannery consistently deliver.

But whereas we know what Munster can do there is a nagging thought that we have yet to see Biarritz at their best. On paper, they have a definite edge in pace and skill behind that battering pack of theirs and if they finally come out of their armour-plated shell Munster are going to have to be at their very best.

Meanwhile, on the international front, there is a distinct feeling of lambs being assembled ready to be shipped out to some distant slaughter houses. England are off to Australia next month, by which time, we hope, the new coaching team will have been gathered around Andy Robinson.

It will be very much a second-string squad because it is vital that players like the captain, Martin Corry, have a well-earned rest before the build-up to the World Cup begins in earnest.

Inevitably, people ask if these brief tours are worthwhile exercises. From a rugby viewpoint, they are a pain in the backside but they are essential to generate income.

If we want the big teams to come here in the autumn then we need to reciprocate. On the positive side it gives the coaches chance to blood some newcomers. On the negative side, they are likely to come back bloodied. At least, the pressure is off because there is not a high level of expectation and you might come back with a few pluses.

Wales have a similar expedition to Argentina where they desperately need the money two Tests will generate. The trip will give their new coach Gareth Jenkins a chance to settle in and run the rule over some of his younger players.

There will be a lot of interest in James Hook, the Neath outside-half who has yet to play a professional game.

Argentina is a tough place for a rookie stand-off to go and play. You need to have a fair share of ball and a bit of space to do something with it. The Argentinians will give you neither.

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