“If it comes to that over the weekend, we’re a team who believes in the squad. I’ve said from day one, in all competitions you’re going to gain some guys and you’ll lose some guys.

“If he doesn’t play it will be a loss for the team, but I thought CJ did really well as captain against Leinster and I thought Fineen Wycherley had an excellent day.”

Stander is a talismanic figure no matter what role or position he is given. His carrying style means he will always lead by example, but Van Graan backed his captaincy yesterday while highlighting his work off the ball in defence and attack.

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“I think where he has improved is, he is not only in his carrying from nine, not only carrying in channel one, there is width in his game and the decisions that he makes, one of the things that he doesn’t get a lot of credit for is his defence.

“In the lead up to some of our tries you have just got to look what he does off the ball. He is a true professional and it is great to have him at Munster.”

Jaco Taute at Munster training in UL. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Aside from O’Mahony, Van Graan’s medical team have no major injury worries ahead of the Pool 2 decider. Chris Farrell came through another 80 minutes despite concerns over his knee last week and his formidable presence will again be an important part of Munster’s attacking game. In defence, O’Mahony’s breakdown threat would be a huge miss as Exeter revel in extended periods of possession, sets which so often sap energy from teams.

“I can tell you, they are the best at that. Statistically, they do keep the ball the best in Europe and they do keep it for the longest,” says the South African.

“So your discipline has got to be key and you’ve got to adapt to the referee and we’ve got the same referee we had the previous time against Exeter, Jerome Garces, one of the best referees in the world and both teams will have to adapt to him.

Tadhg Beirne’s breakdown threat will be key for Munster against the Chiefs. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I think all the games that I’ve seen against Exeter, you get your opportunities and you’ve got to use them. I think we’ve used our opportunities in the last three weeks and I think we’ve converted.”

After three tough weeks with frontliners rarely far from the field, those sapping bouts of pressure could prove telling. Van Graan is not worried about fatigue in his ranks. That, he feels, will be warded off by the need for one last push before the current group disbands until after the Six Nations and also competition for places in a squad with a low injury toll.

“There’s 47 guys who sat here this morning that all want to be picked for the weekend,” he says.

“I think we have planned well over the last four or five months to make sure that we peak for these last two games in Europe, because after this, I said to the team this morning, the next time we see each other together as a group is at the end of March and that’s a long way down the line.

“So whoever gets selected at the weekend will give it their all, and that’s what you want, round six in Europe. As a player you want to play in games likes these.”

For games like these, watching from the couch doesn’t quite cut it.

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