Thursday 22 February 2018

Botha backs Reds to match Perpignan's monster forwards

Munster's BJ Botha
Munster's BJ Botha
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

AS the senior man in the Munster front-row, BJ Botha knows what's coming over the next 10 days as he prepares to pack down against Perpignan.

The French side used their scrum as a weapon against Clermont last weekend – although they went down to a rare home defeat – and the experienced Springbok is expecting a test from the big men up front.

The Top 14 side have a host of big men to choose from, even if they are going through something of an injury crisis, and they will look to test Munster in the tight early on.

Having lost to Edinburgh in Round 1, the Pro12 leaders are in a difficult position in Pool 6 ahead of the crucial back-to-back fixtures and they are fully aware that Sunday's clash is win or bust for their Heineken Cup ambitions.

And Botha says that the Reds must match Perpignan's physicality if they are to come out on top.

"We expect a big challenge and they'll bring that in the physical contest from line-out driving as well as their scrum, that is where they'll want to lay their dominance," he said.

"But we're aware of that and we know we need to counter, and I'm confident that we'll be able to arrive on the day.

"The French scrums, we look at the way they compete there.

"We have looked at a few of the Perpignan scrums against Gloucester and Edinburgh and, look, they are big – but you expect to have at least 20 props to choose from over there – and they'll all be big."

At some stage over the two games, Rob Penney will be expected to call on Duncan Casey or Niall Scannell for the first time this season after losing Mike Sherry to a cruciate injury.


The young hookers have been involved in training and have featured for the British & Irish Cup team, but taking on a team like Perpignan is another level altogether and Botha believes the players must view this as their opportunity.

"The nice thing we have is that we have tried a lot of changes in our side over the last few weeks. Rotation has been happening, maybe not in a game, but in training, we have been trying the combinations," he said.

"So, it is not really that different so it is not much of a change for us (as a team), but for the individual himself he needs to prepare because it is a massive opportunity for him and he won't want to take one step back.

"It is great for the next guy to take the spot, while it is disappointing to lose a guy like Sherry, who is a great player. But we have got to move forward with the guys we've got and they are more than capable."

Irish Independent

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