Sunday 25 June 2017

David Wallace: Munster form reflected in Irish squad and working with Joe Schmidt will help

Conway and the Scannells deserve their chance to shine for Ireland

Rory Scannell. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Rory Scannell. Photo: SPORTSFILE

David Wallace

Munster have their home quarter-final in the Champions Cup, and Toulouse will visit Thomond Park once again. There's so much too look forward to from a Munster perspective, and the players are getting their recognition on the international scene too.

Having 13 guys up in Six Nations camp will certainly help Munster's cause. Andrew Conway has been fantastic, and it's amazing to think Munster have guys like Keith Earls, Simon Zebo, Darren Sweetnam and Ronan O'Mahony all fighting it out for positions along with Conway in that back three. You look at the standard that's there at the moment, it's so strong.

I have already talked up the likes of Rory Scannell, and I'm delighted to see his brother Niall get the call too. But Conway has been a real form player in the Munster team for quite a while. His work under the high ball, which is obviously one of Joe Schmidt's key fundamentals, has been the highlight. Schmidt wants guys to be good under the high ball, so that's one thing.

But not only that, Conway has fantastic feet and the way he put Ian Keatley away the other day was amazing. There was good Racing cover, but he used his footwork to get that offload in. He has that X-factor and it's great to see him having his chance to impress at international level.

Guys who are involved with Joe Schmidt are getting a different view on how to play. It is a very high standard of coaching as well. Things that Rassie Erasmus looks at in Munster, Joe Schmidt might focus in on different areas with Ireland so you just become and a much more rounded player. Guys who are in that intense environment flourish and come back as much better players.

If Ireland do well in the Six Nations, that helps the provinces. And likewise the other way around, when the provinces are doing well it helps Ireland. Last year they were struggling, and none of them made the quarter-finals, and it reflected how Ireland went. They do have a big effect on each other.

Niall Scannell. Photo: Sportsfile
Niall Scannell. Photo: Sportsfile

Hopefully the confidence can stick with these Munster players as they depart for the international scene, and with two provinces having home quarter-finals in the Champions Cup the omens are good.

One-sided

Munster have four-time champions Toulouse. They are always strong in Europe and they seem to be coming back with a bit form - they are fourth in the Top 14 and they are starting to look good in the Champions Cup too.

From here on in the competition there are no easy games. You look back at the last time Toulouse travelled over to Munster, and it was a very one-sided affair. But I don't think it will be as easy next time they visit Limerick.

Toulouse have a lot of history in this competition and they are one French team that will take it very seriously as well. They are a vast array of talent with the likes of Yoann Huget and Gael Fickou.

It's probably a good result that Munster have a French team at home, when you look at the standard that's out there, but they can't be taken lightly. It's just great that Munster are at home and that will probably give them a massive advantage. In the 60 European Cup matches that have been played in Thomond Park, there have only been four defeats for Munster which is an amazing statistic.

If they were to play tomorrow Munster would be big favourites, but you have to get through the Six Nations and the perils of potential injuries to star players.

Despite a number of players leaving the squad for Ireland duty, it's great to know the guys who stay behind are well capable of steering the ship. There is massive depth in the province and with five league games from now until the end of the Six Nations, I am confident that Munster will keep on performing.

The Racing game last weekend was tough but Munster showed that grit and determination again. The refereeing didn't lend to Munster being able to impose their game.

There was a sense of anything goes when Racing were defending mauls, scrums and at the breakdown, which stemmed the Munster flow.

But at the end of the day Munster came out with the victory and scored three tries. It wasn't the prettiest but another win to add to the collection and they can move on to bigger and better things.

Irish Independent

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