Friday 31 March 2017

Smith remains uncertain on Munster future

Munster's Andrew Smith speaking during a press conference earlier this week (Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE)
Munster's Andrew Smith speaking during a press conference earlier this week (Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE)
David Kelly

David Kelly

Munster centre Andrew Smith believes that winning the Pro12 title in Belfast tomorrow evening could provide a springboard for his side in the Champions Cup next season, writes David Kelly.

As Anthony Foley prepares to resign himself to being without pivotal scrum-half Conor Murray, the head coach is expected, though, to name both Simon Zebo (concussion) and Peter O'Mahony (hip) after both men were forced to withdraw prematurely from last week's dramatic semi-final win against Ospreys.

And, with Munster's superior league finish this season likely to grant them a relatively easier route to the European knockout stages next term, Australian Smith is hoping that a first title success since 2011 can give his side a European boost.

"It's a big week ahead," says the man who has formed a formidable midfield pairing with Denis Hurley despite much hand-wringing amongst supporters at the treatment of young Kerry star JJ Hanrahan.

"It's exciting for the team, winning this trophy is what we have been aiming for all year and to have the opportunity this week is massive for us and the guys will be ready for it, that's for sure.

"Glasgow are a very good team and have probably been the most consistent all season. They finished top of the table, have a lot of internationals, a big physical pack, very good counter-attackers with Stuart Hogg at the back and Finn Russell controlling things very well.

"So we'll need to be at our very best to win. Winning would be huge for the confidence of the team going into the Champions Cup next year."

As for Smith, whose future remains uncertain as he prepares to finish a one-year deal, the ex-Brumbies man is unsure whether he will stay on for another campaign.

"We'll work that out in the coming weeks," he says. "I've really enjoyed my time here and have become very comfortable in the set-up and with the coaches and all that.

"I've also had a good time with the family. But we're just not sure of what the next step is at the moment. We'll just have to wait and see.

"I probably came over thinking that I might hopefully stay but I wasn't sure how it would go and what I would have planned for myself and the family. Whatever happens, happens, and I'm happy with that."

Irish Independent

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