Wednesday 20 September 2017

Luke Fitzgerald: Playing the 'Munster way' will be the key to beating the Scarlets

20 May 2017; Donnacha Ryan, left, and CJ Stander of Munster celebrate after the Guinness PRO12 semi-final between Munster and Ospreys at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
20 May 2017; Donnacha Ryan, left, and CJ Stander of Munster celebrate after the Guinness PRO12 semi-final between Munster and Ospreys at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Luke Fitzgerald has said that 'playing the Munster way' will be the key to any success that Rassie Erasmus' side may have when they take on the Scarlets this weekend in the PRO 12 final.

After defeating last year's finalists Leinster 27-15 at the RDS on Friday, the Scarlets became the first Welsh side since the Ospreys in 2012 to advance to the PRO 12 final.

Wayne Pivac's side will take on Munster at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, a side they defeated 30-21 when the two teams met at Thomond Park back in February.

Munster have gone a seven game winning streak in the league since that defeat, and Fitzgerald thinks that 'playing the Munster way' and using forward ball carriers in the channels will play a big part in any success that the province may have this weekend.

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"I thought Leinster were hot favourites last week [against the Scarlets] but I dont think they performed very well if I'm being honest, aside from the Scarlets playing really well," Fitzgerald said on the latest episode of The Left Wing on the Independent Sport Facebook page.

"I think Munster are very suited to playing against them. I think they'll deal better with the Scarlets linespeed, and I think Munster as well might be a little bit stingier defensively, which could help, although they have a big task on their hands keeping that Scarlets backline quiet.

"I think they'll look to play the Munster way a little bit, I think they'll look to maul them a little bit, take them through the forwards, carry the ball for long periods in the tight channels.

"I would like to see them still have a bit of forward interplay here and there, just to I suppose let loose some of that attacking talent that they have in the outside backs, but that's how I see the game going and I'm tipping them as well, I think they are a better team than the Scarlets."

Munster have also been boosted by the fact that injury doubts Keith Earls, Andrew Conway and Conor Murray all look like they will return to training this week after the trio pulled up lame following Saturday's win over the Ospreys.

Conway and Murray have both overcome respective shoulder concerns while Earls has shaken off a shin injury to return to training.

Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus said: "We’re expecting everybody to train today. We won’t have a tough training session, because it was a pretty tough game on Saturday.

"But Earlsy looks ok. Andrew Conway had a bump on his shoulder, but he looks fine. Apart from that, everybody looks fit."

With regards to Murray, who was sidelined for nearly two months with a nerve issue in his shoulder earlier this season, Erasmus claims the knock was to his right shoulder and not the left shoulder which he injured after colliding with Wales winger George North during the Six Nations.

Erasmus said: "It’s a different shoulder. Just a normal bump. Nothing serious."

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