Munster's Paul O'Connell wary of Ospreys

Munster captain Paul O'Connell
O'Connell captained the Lions in South Africa in 2009

Munster captain Paul O'Connell is well aware of the threat posed by the Ospreys before their Magners League semi-final.

The Welsh region, last season's champions, will face the 2009 winners, who finished the season in top spot.

Having won at Leinster to clinch the title last season, O'Connell knows the Ospreys have what it takes to win in Limerick.

"They're a very experienced side," said O'Connell.

"They are well able to win at home and are well able to go away from home and produce big performance and wins.

"We're well aware of that and it adds to the challenge for us."

The two sides have already faced each other four times this season, in the Magners League and Heineken Cup, with Munster having won three encounters.

"We play each other so often, internationally, in the Magners League and obviously in the Heineken Cup this year [that] we know each other inside out," added O'Connell, the 2009 Lions captain.

"There probably won't be a lot of analysis to do for the coaches because it will all have been done in the past.

"We know them very well. They're a very strong squad and it will be a very tough game for us and for them.

"They'll be disappointed with their Heineken Cup form and maybe some of their Magners League form as well towards the end of the year.

"We're both in the semi-finals now and it's knockout rugby and all to play for.

"We want to finish with something in the trophy cabinet after a disappointing year last year and obviously a disappointing run in the Heineken Cup."

Both sides endured disappointing seasons in European club rugby's main competition.

The Ospreys failed to qualify from a pool which included Munster, who themselves had to settle for a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup.

And having lost 20-12 at home to Harlequins in the semi-finals, the Magners League is Munster's final chance of securing silverware this season.

"The Magners League is of massive importance to us," O'Connell told BBC Wales.

"It's the last competition we're in and we're playing at home which makes it very important as well.

"The Magners League has grown in stature year on year and the play-offs have made it a very important and interesting competition.

"[It's] made the last few games of the season very interesting for supporters and players alike."

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