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Penney backs international contingent to return in flying form for Reds


Munster coach Rob Penney says the November internationals have proved a massive boost for his side.

But, he says, the key is to find the right balance over the next two months, as his Irish internationals will be available for six of the next eight matches.

The success of Simon Zebo, in particular, at full-back for Ireland and Keith Earls at outside centre, increases his options and he insists Munster are not under pressure from the Irish management to select them in particular positions.

"It is up to us (where we play them). But as I have said all along, we are endeavouring to help Irish rugby achieve what it needs to," he said. "We talk a lot (with the Irish management) and we'll endeavour to meet their needs where we can, but we also need to be conscious of the needs of our team. Hopefully, we can meet everyone's needs."

His first season in charge has been a mixed bag, with five victories from nine Pro12 games and a win and a loss in the Heineken Cup, but he is hoping the strong showing by many of his men in the November internationals will spur Munster on.


"I think it was exciting that Donnacha Ryan had such a dominant performance in that last Test. I thought Peter O'Mahony really came on and had a big influence on the tough, robust aspects of that game. From our perspective, we were really happy with them. And out the back, we were really happy with Conor Murray and Keith Earls playing so well," said Penney.

"When a guy like that (Zebo) gets an opportunity and comes through as well as he has, it is wonderful for everyone involved. He has created another positional option for us.

"Every time they are up against world-class opposition like that it is an opportunity to not only challenge themselves and their own ability, but also for some of the younger blokes to grow and get confidence out of the fact that they can play at that level, it is terrific."

Penney is relieved that Niall Ronan's injury on Sunday against Scarlets is not as bad as was initially feared, but he is disappointed for the 30-year-old to be sidelined again. "He has had a horror run, the poor man, but thankfully it is not as serious as we first thought."

Irish Independent