Sport Munster Rugby

Friday 24 November 2017

A chance to recharge mind and body is vital

Munster's Felix Jones during squad training. Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Munster's Felix Jones during squad training. Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Felix Jones

It's nice to have the week off. It was needed, to reset, recharge and clear the head a bit after an intense few weeks with what has gone on.

My partner Lyanne, Alfie and I took the opportunity to enjoy a few days in Cork before travelling to Dublin later in the week. On weeks like this, it's nice to be able to sit back and reflect on recent performances.

I'm so proud to be involved with Munster Rugby at the moment and couldn't get over how our guys turned in another sensational performance against the Maori All Blacks last Friday.

For them to go out against a team like the Maoris and play out of their skin was very satisfying for all involved. All we asked was that guys gave their maximum effort, which they unquestionably did, and consequently every single one of our lads got the better of their opposite number.

When I watched it back, you could see the Maoris were really fired up also. Everything that went their way, they celebrated it, and that just showed they really wanted to win too. It was the toughest of challenges but even when we went 14-7 down, our guys never stopped believing and came through with flying colours.

We played some good rugby in the right parts of the pitch. Some of the tries were about capitalising on Maori mistakes, and in other parts we held onto the ball and exerted a lot of pressure. Munster were just alive to every break and opportunity.

Our guys were just on point in absolutely every respect, in terms of their effort and in terms of the rugby they tried to play. You can't give the guys enough credit at the end of the day.

The break isn't a bad thing at this stage. The intensity over the last month, both emotionally and physically, took a lot out of everyone at the club and it was a well-deserved rest this week.

To maintain the intensity from the Glasgow week through to the Ulster game, and then to follow that up with a great win over Ospreys and last weekend's historic success is so admirable.

REST

Our Irish contingent however won't get to rest this weekend as they have another huge game against New Zealand following a good win over Canada last weekend.

To see John Ryan getting his first cap is testament to the work he has put in all season. He has made excellent strides in the past couple of seasons and that's not by fluke, his effort has been immense. He is in every single Monday morning, meeting with coaches and trying to make improvements.

For Billy Holland to finally get his chance is also richly deserved. He is one of the hardest working players I have ever encountered and has led from the front in recent seasons.

Obviously Jack O'Donoghue has got a very bright future ahead. And to already have made his debut for Ireland, it points to exciting times for him, while Keith Earls, Dave Kilcoyne and Donnacha Ryan continued to do us proud also.

But it's a whole new ball game against the All Blacks this weekend, and I expect this game to be another cracker where Ireland will have to recapture their best form to stand a chance.

And even though there is always so much talk about the supposed gap between the southern and northern hemisphere teams, back-to-back wins against New Zealand would drastically change people's perceptions.

It's vital the Irish fans create a cauldron in the Aviva Stadium this weekend, just like the Munster fans have done for us. We have had three packed out home venues recently and we all want to thank supporters for rallying behind us at a tough time for all concerned.

Irish Independent

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