Friday 20 April 2018

Success of season depends on Pro12 glory - Murray

Connor Murray
Connor Murray
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Success for Munster this season will come down to their ability to claim the Guinness Pro12 trophy in four weeks' time, according to Conor Murray.

The Ireland scrum-half believes his side must show their mettle in tomorrow's visit to final venue Kingspan Stadium to face Ulster in order to secure a home semi-final and set up a clear run at glory.

Having suffered huge disappointment when exiting the European Champions Cup at the pool stage, Anthony Foley's Reds have been fighting on one front and want to win a first trophy since the 2011 to ensure the coach's first season is a succces.

"We were knocked out of Europe and that didn't go to plan, the group was a tough group and the Clermont game was the standout, where we did lose the group," Murray said. "Definitely, this is a successful club who are used to winning trophies. That's where we want to be at the end of this year, I wouldn't be afraid to say that it's how we'll be judged."

Murray believes the two-time European champions have bounced back from their Champions Cup disappointed and are well placed to go to Belfast and secure a result.

"We've spoken about Europe, we learnt a lot about ourselves in those games," he said.

"Clermont away, we learnt an awful lot. It was great that we picked up a losing bonus point that time and, as time has gone on, we've become a stronger team that understand each other that bit more.

"Returning from international camp and getting the internationals back is a boost to the squad, we're in a stronger position.

"We'd a new coaching group this year, we're nearly a year down the line with them now and we find that we're a more settled side now. Hopefully, you'll find that this is the case this weekend."

Tomorrow's game pits the league's best home and away records against each other in a game that will go a long way to deciding play-off seedings.

Munster are a point ahead of Ulster in the race for a home semi-final and a rare win in Belfast would be timely.

"I don't think I've started up in Ravenhill," Murray said. "It's a big game, it's got a lot of reward at the end of it so if you can get a win up there. We'd stay in the top two and it'd be great to get a home semi-final.

"We're trying to keep down the talk of a home semi-final but it's a reality now, there's only two games left.

"It's a big weekend for all the top four sides and we've got a big challenge heading up to Ravenhill.

"It's a great atmosphere up there, the crowd kind of get on your back but that's something I enjoy. It's a huge game and there's a chance of winning a trophy - that's something you want to keep doing.

"The ground is firming up, the weather's better and it's enjoyable to be playing rugby at this time of year. To have something to play for just makes it more enjoyable.

"It's going to be a high quality game with a lot of pressure in it. If there are mistakes, both teams are capable of capitalising on them."

Irish Independent

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