Monday 26 June 2017

Nienaber looks to build in key weeks

Nienaber: “I think picking up points at this stage of the year is very important.” Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Nienaber: “I think picking up points at this stage of the year is very important.” Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

Munster defence coach Jacques Nienaber has called on his side to kick on with their positive form and pick up as many points as possible between now and the end of the Six Nations window.

Currently, Munster have had to plan without 11 players who are away representing Joe Schmidt's side, but Nienaber expects his troops to retain the high standards they have shown all season - even without some of their key performers.

And the South African native points to the success of Connacht last season in this stretch of games as the example to follow. Pat Lam's side went on to win all six of their games in February and March and the Munster coach is aiming for a similar return.

"I think picking up points at this stage of the year is very important," says Nienaber.

"I wasn't here last year, but I believe that Connacht in this patch of six games, where they didn't have their internationals, they put themselves in a very commanding position in terms of the standings and the league."

Despite being down some significant characters of late, there has been a similar pattern to Munster's form and results as there was during the November international window.

At the tail end of last year Munster claimed five wins from the five games that flanked the international fixtures, including victories against Ulster, Ospreys and Glasgow.

With squad numbers down, other players stepped forward and took their chances.

"Obviously I think this part of the season tests your depth and challenges you in different ways than the previous part of the season did," says Nienaber.

"I think it's very important to pick up as many points as you can at this stage of the season."

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