Lam's Westerners will bring plenty of spirit
Published 20/12/2013 | 02:30
The derby matches at Christmas have become something to look forward to each year.
They are not as pivotal as, say, the festive games in soccer in England, especially with some players likely to be absent due to Irish camp -- but these games have their own place in Irish rugby.
I know supporters love them, especially those who are home for Christmas and might not get to see many games.
There's nothing better than a joust with one of your rivals, usually in dreadful conditions, to get you going. I played in a few of those 3-0 and 3-3 matches against Connacht over the years and Munster can expect a full-blooded battle when Pat Lam's men come to Thomond Park next week.
Firstly, they need to deal with Scarlets in Musgrave Park. They have a good home record against them and Munster are in a good place at the moment -- I would expect them to continue that.
Connacht will feel they need another big win to back up their remarkable victory over Toulouse and the trip to Thomond Park gives them that opportunity.
I must say I'm looking forward to the match against Ulster in Ravenhill. It has developed into a superb stadium and Ulster are matching their impressive surroundings with fine displays on the pitch.
They are really bringing a physicality to their game. That clash will be the week before we go back into Heineken Cup action, so both teams will be looking for a big performance.
In the meantime, have a lovely Christmas and happy new year!