Sport Champions Cup

Friday 19 September 2014

Penney reveals there's room for compromise amid Reds evolution

Published 10/01/2013 | 05:00

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Rob Penney's real test at Munster is yet to come

ROB PENNEY wasn't able to sleep on Saturday night and went through a sort of masochistic ritual by replaying the tape of Munster's loss to Cardiff over and over.

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It didn't get any better with the extra viewings. "I've had my head in my hands a couple of times," he said. "I'm the one that questions myself more than anybody about the direction and the opportunities. Are they false or are they real?"

It took an open 'question and answer' session with schoolchildren on Sunday morning to help restore Penney's faith in what he is attempting to achieve with Munster.

"They asked some challenging questions. I was able to be true to myself and say exactly what I thought, which was that we have a growing group here and that helped me put things into perspective.

"As Sunday progressed and getting into Monday I was really excited again. The hands-in-the-head moments are still there watching the video, but there's also a lot of excitement and what I see with where this group can go.

"I know that's probably really rowing a canoe upstream the wrong way in a lot of areas, but I've got faith in this group and I've got faith in what we're trying to do and I suppose the underpinning thing for me is that the boys do too."

The coach also revealed that while he – and the team – remain committed to the evolution, there is room for compromise on both sides.

"I'm open-minded enough to change. If we need to change things, we will. That's the dynamics of the business. You can't stand still.

"Some frustrations remain, but also the positivity comes on the back of knowing that we're heading in the right direction. I know that, and the team does too."

They will look to take a big step forward on Sunday when they face Edinburgh in the Heineken Cup and Penney (pictured) will give those injured last Saturday every chance to prove their fitness ahead of Friday's team announcement.

Neither Conor Murray nor Mike Sherry took part in yesterday's training session, with Sherry sporting a compression boot on his right ankle in an effort to speed up the healing process. Murray had his mouth stitched both internally and externally, but is not a concern for the weekend.

"With Mike we won't know until the last minute whether he is okay to take his place in the group," said Penney. "But the reason he, Conor and Stephen Archer are in the running is because they were so professional about how they approached the healing process at the start."

There is confidence within the group that Murray and Sherry will be fit to take their places in the team for Sunday and Penney also confirmed that the internationals rested last weekend – Simon Zebo, Donncha O'Callaghan, Peter O'Mahony and BJ Botha (South Africa) – are all fit and available.

All four are likely to be restored to the starting line-up as Munster not only seek to bounce back from the performance against Cardiff in Cork, but also rejuvenate their season in a European footing.

"The beauty about this week is that if we win, we have an opportunity at Thomond next week to be masters of our own destiny.

"So, we just deal with trying to get the result and not get caught up in chasing bonus points or anything like that.

"If we're anything, but totally focused and totally well prepared in terms of the homework and execution of what we're trying to achieve, we'll come unstuck," Penney said.

Irish Independent

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